Added sugars essential to maximise milk from forage this winter

Dairy producers looking to maximise milk from forage this winter to boost income over feed costs (IOFC) are being warned to ensure rations include a minimium 5% added sugars and don’t exceed a 3:1 ratio of starch-to-sugar.

“Cereals may be cheap this year, but overrelying on starch to supply fermentable energy risks triggering sub-acute ruminal acidosis (SARA),” states KW nutritionist Mark Scott. “Sugars reduce that risk, and are essential to drive microbial breakdown of forage fibre in the rumen and capture the rapidly available protein in grass silages. But the residual sugars in preserved forages aren’t particularly accessible, so extra sugars are needed or the rate and extent of fibre digestion won’t be as great, and milk-from-forage will be reduced.”

Trouw Nutrition data shows first cut silages averaged 68% digestibility this year, yet it only takes a 4-5% reduction in forage digestibility from imbalanced energy supply in the rumen to cut that to 65%.

“Forage is still the cheapest feed on farm, so make the most of it by keeping available sugar levels above that 5% threshold,” Mr Scott adds. “That typically means 2.0-2.5kg/cow/day of a high sugar molasses-based liquid feed – such as cane molasses, Molale or Rouxminate – or around 6kg of the highly cost-effective whey permeate-based feed like LactoBoost.”

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