Proper feeding of fat and fat products to dairy cows are a common strategy to boost production, however, understanding the roles of various fat components is essential. Overfeeding the recommended 5% total dietary fat can have disastrous effects on production. Not to mention specialty fat products can be an expensive ingredient. It is critical to understand the role the different sources of fat play in the dairy ration.

There are three types of fat in a dairy diet. First, there are ingredients that inherently contain fat – what’s already there. These ingredients are energy dense and typically come from processed oilseeds. ExPress® soymeal is an energy dense ingredient that can be fed in a ration. Second, there are isolated fats or oils added to the diet called secondary fats. They include ingredients like soybean oil and animal tallow. It is important to note secondary fats should be limited to prevent milk-fat depression and acidosis. Third, bypass fat ingredients – or rumen-protected fats – can be supplemented in the ration. While it is necessary to utilize fat sources as energy for the cow, the quality of the fat source should be considered.

A recent 100-year review in the Journal of Dairy Science discusses how feeding high-quality fat ingredients can boost rumen functionality and have other positive health impacts, such as improved reproductive efficiency and increased milk production. When oilseeds are processed using high-shear dry extrusion and mechanical oil pressing – ExPress® system – the quality of the fat is preserved. This includes essential fatty acids and naturally occurring antioxidants. Improved animal performance is the biggest advantage from feeding high-quality fats. When fed ExPress® soymeal compared to commodity soybean meal, dairy cows’ dry matter intake and milk production improved by 2.65 lbs./cow/day (1.2 kg/d) and 7.5 lbs./cow/day (3.4 kg/d) respectively.