Livestock nutrition: Alternative proteins can protect margins

Current and forecasted higher commodity prices for protein sources like soya and rape, could have…

Current and forecasted higher commodity prices for protein sources like soya and rape, could have a significant impact on ruminant margins.

But, switching to alternative sources of protein which also stimulate rumen microbial protein production, could help reduce the impact according to Richard Dobson, from molasses blend specialists, ED and F Man.

“Farmers are expecting to see higher feed prices as they move out of winter feed price contracts,” he commented.

“So it will make sense to consider alternative protein sources to help reduce the effect on margins. A key part of this will be to make sure you optimise the supply of microbial protein produced in the rumen.”

To optimise animal production, whether it is milk yield, or live weight gain, it is important to correctly supply protein both in terms of rumen degradable and undegradable protein, he argued.

“Around 70{c93c05115eae7b2853c4a44517667f24b04dafe21463d3cb653b86ff5269b0fa} of the protein consumed by ruminants is broken down into ammonia, which is then used to produce microbial protein. This microbial protein is the most economic source of protein for ruminants with a high digestibility value and optimal amino acid profile.”

A high protein molasses based liquid feed offers a cost-effective option for protein supplementation to maintain animal production over the summer.

To maximise microbial protein yield the rumen requires a source of fermentable energy. Sucrose, the main sugar found in cane molasses, is rapidly fermented in the rumen and is fully digested within two hours.

The sugars in molasses act as a catalyst within the rumen stimulating microbial activity and microbial protein yield.

ED and F Man’s range of ‘regulated release’ blends, such as Regumaize and Regupro, supply an ideal combination of readily available energy and both natural and regulated release protein.

‘Regulated Release’ is a unique patented process developed by ED and F Man Liquid Products and is designed to give rumen bacteria the balanced and synchronised supply of energy and protein they need to thrive.

“A more efficient rumen leads to increased microbial protein production and better animal performance,” Mr Dobson continued. “With a higher yield of microbial protein, less extra protein needs to be fed, helping reduce the quantities of soya or bypass protein in the diet and controlling costs.

“Trials carried out at the University of Reading evaluated the effect of replacing a proportion of conventional protein with a high protein liquid feed, replacing 1.6kg of rape and soya with 2kg of Regumaize 44.

“The change in diet had no impact on milk yield, but milk protein was increased from 3.62{c93c05115eae7b2853c4a44517667f24b04dafe21463d3cb653b86ff5269b0fa} to 3.71{c93c05115eae7b2853c4a44517667f24b04dafe21463d3cb653b86ff5269b0fa} possibly due to the extra readily fermentable energy in the molasses.

“More significantly, the diet including Regumaize 44 would be 16p/cow cheaper – or nearly £1000 per month for a 200-cow herd at today’s prices. As production was not affected by the change this would result in higher margins.

“It’s important to emphasise that high protein liquids should not be used to replace the total protein in the diet but when used as a partial replacement could go a long way to reduce the impact of rising protein prices,” Mr Dobson concluded.