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Ruminant Nutrition for a Sustainable Future

The feed industry continues to focus on improving sustainability while maintaining the quality and profitability of our dairy products. Therefore, there is a great opportunity for ruminants to produce more efficiently thanks to better feed efficiency and, as a result reducing the nitrogen (N), nitrous oxide (N2O), and phosphorus (P) excretion. The latter affects the total carbon footprint (Carbon dioxide equivalents, CO2-eq).

As such, amino acid balancing is critical in achieving the above goals. The correct ratios of amino acids in your animal's diet dramatically impact the amount of feed the animal will consume and the rate at which it will gain lean body mass. Therefore, understanding how to achieve the best amino acid balance and implementing such a feeding strategy will unlock significant benefits for your business.

Our research shows that when amino acid (AA) nutrition is implemented by applying the latest available nutritional knowledge together with the right rumen-protected AA supplements (both, Methionine and Lysine), better N, P, and feed efficiency is observed (Francia et al., 2020) — and in addition to carbon footprint reduction and better animal performance.

AA formulation, therefore, is key to the ruminant sector, reducing N, P, and CO2-eq excretion, improving feed efficiency and enhancing the operating account per kilogram of milk or meat produced. Moreover, other functional benefits that can also be found with the use of rumen-protected amino acids (RPAA) include improved health and reproduction, which will inevitably lead to improved animal welfare and a reduced carbon footprint by having fewer unproductive animals on the farm and greater longevity.

We can do all this by reducing the Life Cycle Impact Assessment of daily formulations and improving animal health.

Read more about our Sustainability & Amino Acid Balancing approach

Strategies for a Sustainable Dairy Production

Animal welfare is a growing concern from a farm profitability point of view and regarding carbon emissions of animal produce. Carbon emission/kg of milk produced by a cow varies depending on efficiency linked with the metabolic health of a cow during the transition phase and early lactation. Hence, focusing on improving metabolic health can significantly support sustainable dairy production. 

The culprit of hypocalcemia is in fact the diets offered to cows in the EMENA region since the majority of diets in this region are cationic. When diets were made acidogenic with NutriCAB™ (as part of Kemin's formulating ruminant health program for pre-calving cows), field experience from different farms clearly showed that the incidence of retained fetal membranes was reduced by 81 percent, metritis by 82.1 percent, mastitis by 53.3 percent, and displaced abomasum was reduced by 80 percent. The reduction of subclinical metabolic disorders improves peak milk production and lactation persistence. When pre-calving diets were turned acidogenic with NutriCAB, there was a 5.9% increase in peak milk production. Such efficiency improvement in metabolic health is needed for improved animal welfare with sustainable dairy production.

To reduce incidences of subclinical ketosis, improving liver functioning is important. Choline supplementation in rumen-protected and intestinally available form routinely increases VLDL secretion from the liver. This increases the export of hepatic fat and results in less hepatic fat concentration and a reduced risk of fatty liver and subclinical ketosis. If rumen-protected Choline is fed pre- and postpartum, it reduces the risk of clinical and subclinical metabolic disorders and overall morbidity. 

Kemin has launched its second generation in encapsulated Choline chloride solution, i.e., CholiGEM™ with 60% Choline chloride in encapsulated form. With more than double the concentration and triple the bioavailability, CholiGEM results in 2-3 times lower carbon footprint than competitors’ products. A lower inclusion level of CholiGEM in the diet helps in two to three times less product needed for transport means lesser carbon footprints. In this way, CholiGEM contributes to a reduction in carbon emissions. 

Improving efficiency and health in dairy cows directly impacts the reduction in carbon footprints/kilogram of milk production. This ensures sustainable environmental benefits, economic sustainability, and farm profitability.

Moreover, at Kemin, we believe that what isn’t measured can’t improve. That is why we calculate the LCA of our rumen-protected amino acids. Using the GFLI database, we can calculate the LCIA of our daily formulations.

Additionally, we have demonstrated that using rumen-protected Methionine and Lysine, KESSENT®, and LysiGEM™, respectively, results in less carbon footprint per kilogram of dry matter to formulate the same nutritional profile while covering the amino acid animal requirements. Our previous results show that in a standard dairy diet, we can reduce up to 15% of CO2-eq per kilogram of feed, improving the N efficiency and reducing the N2O excretion by 10%.

The abovementioned positive environmental impact was achieved without economic damage or even reducing the cost of balanced diets, making it an attractive long-term alternative for the industry to reduce the impact of its emissions. Adopting the concept of balancing for individual AAs can bring endless opportunities to reduce negative emissions' impact while maximizing dairy herd profitability.