With 60-70% of the energy and 50-70% of the protein used by the cow coming from the rumen microbes, driving rumen efficiency has to be a top priority for milk producers looking to boost income over feed costs (IOFC) this winter, advises KW nutritionist Charlotte Ward.
“But the focus must be on more than just choosing feeds that supply the right level of nutrients to balance forages in the rumen,” she explains. “The feeds selected should also supply those nutrients at best value if you want to both increase milk-from-forage and lower feed costs per litre.”
For example, replacing 2.75kg FW of compound with 5kg FW of Traffordgold – for a matching supply of dry matter and energy – can save the equivalent of 0.53ppl in purchased feed costs*. But it will also cut ‘slug feeding’ in the parlour, increase digestible fibre intake and reduce ration sorting, thereby helping stabilise rumen pH and improve fermentation efficiency.
“And you could save another 0.13ppl* for every 1kg FW of rolled wheat replaced with the same dry matter as 3.6 kg FW of LactoBoost high-lactose liquid feed,” Ms Ward adds.
“Plus you’ll be swapping starch energy for sugars for a better balance of energy release in the rumen, and go a long way towards meeting the 5% sugars threshold needed to fully support fibre fermentaiton in the rumen.”
* Based on an average yield of 26 litres/cow, prices correct at time of writing.