Quality Ingredient for Dairy Producers Results in Improved Efficiency

corn for dairy cow protein

The Global Dairy published an article last month about the latest group of dairy producers who had lost their milk contracts, and were looking for a new place to sell their milk. It made me think about another article I read almost one year ago regarding Americans consuming less milk from dairy cows. I also recently noticed another new milk product made from nuts in the grocery store. I have to believe that all of these trends are related.

The dairy industry is like any other, in that one of the primary goals is to produce more salable product (milk) with the same or fewer inputs (feed, in this particular situation). This is commonly assessed as feed efficiency, and for dairy producers it is simply tracked as the following:

Efficiency = milk production (measured by units of mass, usually energy-corrected or fat-corrected)/dry matter intake

However, the dairy industry is also somewhat unique. In the United States, 74% of dairy farms have fewer than 100 cows, and these farms produce only 14% of the milk. Often these will be diversified farms that also produce grain and forage (some to feed their own herds), or have off-farm employment. In these cases, the dairy aspect of the business may not be the focus, and opportunities to improve efficiency may exist. With the decline in milk consumption in the US, smaller producers may not have the luxury of overlooking these opportunities.

Research conducted by Utah State University has shown how easy it can be to create more efficient diets. Lactating dairy diets were formulated to contain one of four soy ingredients. The remainder of the formulations were identical – only the soy ingredient, which was included at about 9% of the dry matter, differed. Some of the soy ingredients were included because they are sold as sources of by-pass protein, including extruded, expelled soy meal (ExPress ® soy meal) made with Insta-Pro equipment.  By-pass protein is unaffected by the microbes in the rumen, and therefore, can be used to support increased milk production.

When the lactating cows were fed ExPress ® soy meal in their diet, an increase in fat-corrected milk production of about 1 kg per cow per day was reported compared to all other soy ingredients.  In addition, feed efficiency was improved because dry matter intake was essentially equal (actually slightly lower with the ExPress ® group) among all treatments.

What this means is that simple ingredient substitutions – in this case, using a higher-quality soy ingredient – can improve performance and efficiency for smaller and mid-sized dairy producers.  With the emerging trends facing the dairy industry, improving efficiency may be important to stay in business.

What does this mean if you’re an ExPress® soy meal producer?  It means that you should consider speaking with the smaller and medium-sized dairy producers in your area about the benefits of high-quality soy.  Insta-Pro Intl has two nutritionists on staff, including myself and Dr. Nabil Said, who can help you do this.  In addition, we are available on a consulting basis to speak with groups of dairy producers in your area about improving their efficiencies.  Please let us help you as you continue to help your dairy customers.

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