KW Feeds said dairy producers must focus on productivity this winter, without relying too heavily on grass silages and home-grown feeds, following a turbulent spring and summer.
With tight silage supplies and growing pressure to control feed costs and maintain performance, investing in the right complementary feeds will have a bigger positive impact on margins per litre, than trying to cut costs with cheaper or less feed.
KW Feeds ruminant technical manager Charlotte Ward said that one area for concern is that for the third year running, due to a mild winter, the growing period was prolonged, so 2022 grass silages again contain high levels of lignin.
This makes it much harder for the rumen microbes to break down the silage fibre, which will slow digestion, cut passage rates and restrict intakes.
Ms Ward said: “What’s needed is additional quickly fermentable energy (FME) to boost microbial activity in the rumen.”
Using a selection of feeds to provide the necessary extra fermentable energy (FME) will also spread the rate of release in the rumen. This is critical to drive and support fibre breakdown, as well as capture and efficiently utilise the rumen degradable protein (RDP) in grass silages.
The other factor to consider is the source of rumen-bypass protein (digestible undegraded protein, DUP) in the ration.
Ms Ward said: “The priority with protein is to meet cow requirements without oversupplying RDP, which is often the case with UK rations, particularly those that are grass silage based.
“The British rapeseed expeller NovaPro fits the bill perfectly, with its higher DUP:RDP ratio in comparison to soya, allowing for improved protein utilisation.”
Rape protein also has an improved amino acid profile more similar to milk protein than soya. On-farm trials showed improved protein utilisation, with a significant reduction in milk urea nitrogen levels, meaning less nitrogen pollution on farm.
With mixed forage rations, Ms Ward said there may be need to supply a source of RDP alongside NovaPro to meet the animal’s metabolisable protein requirement. British co-products, such as Vivergo wheat distillers are a good option, she added.
“The weather challenges and volatile feed prices mean it has never been more important to maximise farm efficiency. NovaPro and Vivergo can help boost the efficiency of protein utilisation and maximise milk from forage,” added Ms Ward.