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Liquid feeds key to maximising value of home-grown forages

15th August 2016

Farmers looking to maximise the value of home-grown forages this winter are being encouraged to consider the role of liquid feeds. 

Bethany May, ruminant nutritionist at Trident Feeds says that the latest results from Trouw Nutrition GB SilageWatch indicate that 2016 first cut silage sugar values of 2.7% (DM basis) are the lowest for two years, and overall metabolisable energy (ME) lower than last year.

“This year’s first cut growing and harvesting conditions were challenging and low sugar concentrations at ensiling, as well as slightly higher dry matters (DM) have led to a poor fermentation. This means there’ll be lower residual sugars available for the cow,” says Bethany.

“Residual sugars are essential to feed the fibre digesting bacteria in the rumen and improve protein nitrogen capture and ultimately drive milk yields,” she adds.

“Additional energy in the form of sugar will also ensure fibre digesting microbes can make the most of the slightly higher neutral detergent fibre (NDF) first cut silages we‘re seeing, ultimately producing the precursors for milk butterfat.”

However, with early analysis results indicating low sugar values, producers are being reminded to consider the potential negative impact on rumen microbial function.

“As we move through the year producers will begin to revaluate their rations, and should consider the role of a readily available energy source to be fed alongside first cut silages to balance rations.”

Bethany adds that producers should not overlook the value of liquids this winter. “A liquid feed, high in energy and sugars, will help balance home-grown forages and maximise their feed value.

“Providing a little more supplemental sugar in the diet can help the cow better utilise what sugar is already available, make-up for shortcomings and encourage dry matter intakes (DMI’s) at critical times.

“Liquid feeds such as LactoBoost and Rouxminate, are concentrated sources of rapidly available energy that can be easily fed as a supplement in TMR’s. The high levels of sugar, 85% in LactoBoost and 60% in Rouxminate (on DM basis), will drive rumen fermentation and lift energy intakes which makes them perfect partners for forages low in sugar and high in NDF.

“The highly palatable nature of liquid feeds will also help mask unpalatable feed ingredients and reduce ration sorting. The result is a higher, more consistent, nutrient intake leading to increased production.

2For example, 1kg of LactoBoost DM (4.3kg Fresh weight) in a ration costs around 14.8 pence/cow/day* and provides 13.4MJ/ME. This is enough for 2.6 litres of additional milk (5.2MJ/litre) which equates to 46.8 pence/cow when receiving 18ppl,” she says.

“Once you minus the cost of feeding LactoBoost there is a potential net gain of 32 pence/cow/day.”

Bethany adds that she would encourage producers to test their silage so that they understand exactly what they are working with.

“You can’t work on getting the most from your forage until you understand how it’s analysing. Formulating rations will then be a lot more accurate.”

* Price varies depending on availability, location and haulage. Price given in publication £34/T.


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