Global palm oil shortages have increased the cost of rumen-protected fats by up to 40% in the past 12 months. And unless steps have been taken to reduce reliance on protected fats, it’s adding as much as £900/month* to the feed bill for a typical 200 cow herd, claims KW nutritionist Dr Matt Witt.
“El Nino weather patterns in Malaysia and Indonesia last year cut palm oil production by 3.9 million tonnes (mt) against a background of rising global demand,” he outlines. “Production is expected to rebound 5-6mt this year, but global stocks won’t fully recover until at least 2018.”
According to Dr Witt, the key to reducing the need for protected fats is to achieve better utilisation of the ration, typically combining greater digestion in the rumen with maximum feed intakes.
“In terms of feed choice, adding high sugar liquid feeds such as Molale will boost both ration palatability and rumen microbial activity, while switching to slower fermenting starch feeds like sodawheat can improve rumen conditions and fermentation efficiency,” he explains.
“Adding supplements designed to enhance digestion and raise intakes can also be highly effective. The plant extract-based OptiPartum-C, for example, can be used weight-for-weight to reduce protected fat in the diet by half without any reductions in milk yield, milk quality or fertility, yet costs up to £350/t less.”
* Based on average yield of 33 litres/cow/day receiving 0.5kg/cow/day of rumen-protected fat.