You are viewing EMENA

7528906 Pregnant cow with dairy farmer in the background. Blue sky and green grass

Ruminant Nutrition for Improved Efficiency

Feed costs can be as much as 70% of a farm's total production cost. Feed efficiency is determined by how efficiently nutrients contained in animal feed are converted into animal protein. Therefore, you can achieve significant cost savings by improving feed efficiency.

There are multiple ways to optimize diet efficiency. We can reduce excess nutrients, adjust the formulation to the fundamental requirements of the animals, take care of animal health, and guarantee optimal cow transition. Moreover, we can also carefully evaluate the feed ingredients and additional options for improvements. 

Strategies for Improved Efficiency

We know that excess nutrients need to be reduced, and the formulation of feed has to be adjusted to the real requirements of the animal.

Rising feed prices, high volatility of prices, and low availability of feed are the most limiting challenges facing dairy farm viability. However, there is an opportunity for ruminants to produce more efficiently through increased protein utilization and reduced nitrogen excretion, impacting the farm's profitability and sustainability significantly.

Learn more on how to improve your milk efficiency in our blog 

Cows have specific requirements for individual amino acid use and, more specifically, when using Methionine and Lysine (the first essential limiting AA). Remarkably, Methionine and Lysine work in unison — both amino acids are necessary for diets for the best and most precise feeding helping achieve maximum production performance without overfeeding protein.

Balancing ruminants' rations with amino acids rather than crude protein is a state-of-the-art approach to protein nutrition and precision nutrition. An inadequate supply affects animal health and productivity. Amino acid nutrition also provides flexibility in formulation when selecting or substituting different feed materials due to either price or availability. AA feeding dairy cows balanced amino acid formulations leads to improved animal production. Balancing dairy rations for amino acids allows more precise feeding so that cows can achieve maximum production performance without overfeeding protein. The improvement in metabolizable protein efficiency provides us an opportunity to formulate diets with lower crude protein content without compromising the yield of milk and milk components, reducing the total feed cost.

Thus, if we want to work in precise nutrition, we must use rumen-protected Methionine and rumen-protected Lysine in moderate crude protein ruminant diets. Rumen-protected amino acids are the best way to provide the limiting amino acids. They offer us flexibility in formulation when selecting or substituting different feed materials due to either price or availability. AA Feeding dairy cows balanced amino acid formulations leads to improved animal production. Balancing dairy rations for amino acids allows more precise feeding so that cows can achieve maximum production performance without overfeeding protein. The improvement in metabolizable protein efficiency provides us an opportunity to formulate diets with lower crude protein content without compromising the yield of milk and milk components, reducing the total feed cost. Thus, if we want to work in precise nutrition, we must use RP-Met and RP-Lys in moderate crude protein ruminant diets. Rumen-protected amino acids are the best way to provide the limiting amino acids.

We must ensure the cow's health to guarantee optimal transition. The post-calving phase, or transition period, is the most important and vulnerable period for dairy cows as their metabolic needs dramatically increase. A cow's lactational performance is directly related to how she responds to this high-energy transition period. To be successful in dairy production, we must focus on formulating diets for pre- and post-calving cow phases.

Take a look at our e-book on optimal transition

We all know we should move dry cows to a close-up pen before their due date, but where does this recommendation come from? For a lactating cow to be successful, she needs to mobilize calcium from her bones. This process can take 10 to 15 days. Without adequate time to prepare for lactation, post-calving efficiency may be compromised. By changing the diets (DCAB) supplied during the close-up period, not only are we providing time for the cow to begin to mobilize calcium from bones, but also time for her rumen to adapt to the forages and higher energy diets essential to support the absorption of nutrients and prevent problems after calving.

The three weeks on either side of calving are the most important and vulnerable period for the dairy cow. Her metabolic needs increase dramatically, and her ability to cope with this high-energy transition period will impact her performance during the rest of the lactation. Therefore, having an effective transition health management program for cows is crucial for a successful dairy operation. Transition dairy cows experience a decline in dry matter intake in the last week of gestation and the early-lactation period. Regarding efficiency solutions, Choline nutrition has received the highest focus due to its role in improving dry matter intake during the transition phase. Besides improving dry matter intake during the transition phase and early lactation, Choline's role in maximizing milk production and its component yield creates a strong argument for increased provision of bioavailable Choline.