With UK retailers ramping up commitments to environmental sustainability targets and reducing carbon footprint on farms, dairy farmers are having to source innovative alternative protein sources to soya, whilst maintaining cow performance and health.
As major retailers such as M&S and Waitrose now eliminate soya from milk supply pools, and with an estimated 250,000 tonnes of soya used in dairy feeds in the UK, it is likely this trend will be replicated across other retailers and/or processors.
Farmers now have a sustainable, high-performance alternative, with evaluation trials demonstrating that NovaPro, a rumen protected rape expeller, manufactured in the UK from British-sourced rapeseed, is proving an effective soya replacement.
M&S supplier, Thakeham Farms, near Pulborough in West Sussex, is one of many dairy operations now benefitting from using NovaPro, having evaluated its potential as a soya replacement in their blends, ahead of these changes.
“We knew Marks & Spencer were planning to remove soya from the milking cow ration at some point in the future, so we wanted to be ahead of the curve,” explains Richard Salsbury, Herd Manager of Thakeham Farms 225-head, 10,000 litre, Holstein cows.
“With the added public pressure for us to move away from soya, NovaPro seemed a very competitive product in the way that it worked for the cows, and we felt that it would be something that we should get to trial.”
Dr Michael Marsden, KW Alternative Feeds Product Development Director, led the farm evaluation. “The herd was not on particularly heavy soya usage, so the trial was more focused on maintaining, while seeking to drive, performance,” he explains.
The results demonstrated bulk milk production responded positively, rising by approximately 1 litre to the introduction of the NovaPro blend. Milk quality kgs showed a similar trend, with the average of the 3 recordings before, during and after the NovaPro feeding period being 1.400, 1.403 and 1.375 kg/d of fat and 1.120, 1.140, 1.124 kg/d of protein.
“We had reservations we were going to potentially have a drop in yield, condition or fertility, but those fears were really alleviated so we were quite happy to progress with the product,” adds Mr Salsbury.
“When Marks & Spencer made it mandatory that we had to remove any soya from our milking cow ration, we had no reservations in choosing NovaPro, following the trials. We are very happy to be leading the way as part of the dairy industry to remove soya from our diet, and try and make our products more sustainable.”
NovaPro is produced at Yelo’s state-of-the-art rapeseed expelling facility in Warwickshire, where whole rapeseeds are heated and pressed to expel the oil, after which the residual cake is treated, using a unique and safe patented process, with Xylig, a unique xylose rich wood sugar, akin to the ‘kitchen cake baking’ process, which increases the level of rumen bypass protein very similar to soya.
Mr Salsbury concludes, “I would definitely recommend NovaPro to any farmers, we have a massive pressure on us as an industry to make ourselves more sustainable and try and make our carbon footprint that bit smaller.”