Maximising rumen efficiency – and using best value feeds to do so – is key to boosting income over feed costs (IOFC) this winter. So says KW nutritionist Charlotte Ward.
“Between 60% and 70% of the energy, and 50% and 70% of the protein, used by the cow comes from rumen microbes,” she says. “So formulating rations that fully support rumen function is critical to reducing feed costs per litre, as is choosing feeds that supply those nutrients at best value.”
Many of this year’s silages are high in rumen degradable protein (RDP) but low in fibre, making them difficult to balance in the ration. She explains that additional rapidly fermentable carbohydrate (RFC) will be needed in many cases, but producers should take care to avoid triggering sub-acute ruminal acidosis (SARA).
“With forage fibre levels low, molasses-based liquid feeds and confectionery blends, such as SugaRich Dairy, are good choices because they don’t pose the same acidosis risk as cereals.”
“A good supply of digestible fibre from soya hulls or sugar beet feed will further help rumen function, as well as supporting butterfats. And switching to the hot-pressed rapeseed expeller, such as NovaPro, for rumen-bypass protein will reduce both oversupply of RDP and feed cost compared to soyabean meal.”