Challenges in dairy production: High prices on the feed market – time to act – Part 1

Times are challenging: not least due to the Corona pandemic and the current war in Ukraine, many economic systems are tottering. The feed industry is confronted with rapidly rising prices due to an uncertain supply of feed components and volatile markets. Of course, these significant increases in animal feed prices are also shaking up dairy farmers' calculations, as they have only limited potential for price adjustments. It is high time to address this issue and look at the different wheels that can still be turned. Feed efficiency and cost management are two of them which are considered crucial parameters influencing profitability in modern dairy farms.

Turning small cogs - achieving a big impact


One of the wheels, which can be turned to escape the uncertain price volatility is represented by using feed additives, which have been able to upvalue ruminant rations for centuries. In recent years, especially phytogenic (plant-derived) products have gained interest, as on the one side, they are highly accepted by consumers, meeting the growing demand for antibiotic-free diets and livestock being kept and fed appropriate to their requirements, and though allowing profitable farming on the other side.

But what is it that makes these “phytogenics” so special and how can they be used best in dairy? For better understanding, it is important to keep in mind the high value that feed- and protein efficiency play in this context.

Protein efficiency in ruminants

Ruminant animals have an interesting physiology regarding protein metabolism.

The supplied protein (rumen degradable protein (RDP), and non-protein nitrogen), which arrives in the cow's digestive tract via feed, is built up into microbial protein by the rumen bacteria using fermentable energy. Main places of digestion of the microbial protein are the abomasum and the small intestine. Based on the rumen yield, the percentage of true protein, and the percentage of digestibility, we only reach between 50% and 60% of the metabolized yield.

Figure 1: Protein metabolism in dairy cows

In parallel, the rumen undegraded protein (RUP), also called bypass protein, is digested in the abomasum and the small intestine by an acidic pH value. Here, the digestibility and the amino acid profile depend on the raw material characteristics. The yield of metabolized protein out of RUP is generally higher, compared to microbial protein (between 75% and 85% in the diet), and is directly linked to the protein digestibility of the raw materials.

Both types of protein are metabolized in the small intestine to be used for milk protein synthesis and maintenance (figure 1).

“Be it in the rumen, or in the small intestine, or in the udder – there are different ways to improve the protein metabolism in cows. This is what we also took advantage of and selected precious plant extracts to a well formulated, tailored solution to enhance the efficacy of metabolized protein in dairy.“

Thierry Aubert, Global Unit Lead Ruminants at Delacon

Find out more about phytogenic solutions in dairy farming

Thierry Aubert

Thierry Aubert

Thierry Aubert can look back on 15 years of experience in the premix, feed and meat industry. Since the beginning of his career, Thierry is in regular exchange with the farmers to understand their challenges and needs. In 2013 he joined Delacon as Species Leader Ruminants. With his team, he is in charge of the global product development for the ruminant species and customer technical support. Since spring 2018, his task areas have been extended: At the moment, he is also responsible for the coordination of the Reginal Technical Managers worldwide. In his leisure time, he likes to go running and already participated in several marathons.

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Gerda Aichinger commented on 11. Apr 2022, 09:10am:

Very actual topic.

Same but different

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