Improve your milk efficiency with amino acids

Published on 2-01-2021 - By Kemin

There is a lot of progress in the amino acid (AA) nutritional research. However, in most cases, the focus is still on the crude protein (CP) in ruminant feed requirements.

Lately, we see an increased interest in reducing nitrogen (N) excretion and the possibility to reduce the CP in the ruminant diet with a more precise formulation. In correspondence with this, we see that the protein feeding guidelines evolved to more complex nutrition models designed to predict the AA requirements (Schwab and Broderick, 2017). Undoubtedly, balancing for AAs rather than crude protein is the cutting-edge approach when we talk about ruminant nutrition. Adopting the concept of balancing for AAs can bring endless opportunities for maximizing dairy herd profitability.

Optimise your profitability

Hereby some opportunities to maximize your profitability:

  • There is a continuous increase in feed prices, and cost of milk production. Diet reformulation including rumen-protected Methionine (Met) and Lysine (Lys), improves the metabolizable protein (MP) utilization, and maximize dairy cow production and farm profit

  • One of the greatest benefits of balancing for AA is increasing milk and milk component yield with less feed protein, at similar or lower feed cost. The increase in milk yield is most seen in early lactation cows and can be of great benefit if balancing for Lys and Met are implemented already in close-up period

  • Balancing for the first two limiting AA will decrease the milk urea nitrogen (MUN) and overall nitrogen excretion, with a better energy utilization

  • Improving the dairy cow’s health and reproduction

Limiting amino acids

When one of the AA is limiting, dairy cows will have an oversupply of all other AA. Moreover, when providing the missing block (the limiting AA) a new molecule of milk protein can be synthesized. Therefore, a surplus of other amino acids will decrease, and the utilization efficiency of MP will be improved. When dairy nutritionists rely mainly on the amount of MP available with no consideration for limiting AA, then in most cases, if not all, the actual milk yield will be lower than expected. This clearly indicates that, although the supply of total MP might be adequate, the balance of the available AA can be incorrect, alternatively limiting milk production.

Balancing for amino acids

Therefore, adopting the concept of AA balance to supply the first two limiting AA will decrease the variation in predicting milk performance, improve the yield of milk and milk components, and decrease surplus in another AA. It is widely accepted that the improvement in MP utilization efficiency provide dairy nutritionist with an opportunity to formulate diets with lower crude protein (CP) content without compromising the yield of milk and milk components.

We cannot cover limiting AA (Met and Lys) requirements without external supplementation. It is important to maximize the microbial protein produced and to use high-quality rumen undegradable protein. Both of them achieve a higher quality in metabolic protein that can reach the small intestine. However, Met and Lys are limiting AA in all different feeding diets in Europe (due to their low concentrations in most feed proteins relative to concentrations in rumen bacteria, milk, and tissue protein). Thus, if we want to work in precise nutrition in Europe, it is imperative to use RP-Met and RP-Lys in moderate or low CP ruminant diets. Strategies to reduce losses and improve the efficiency of ruminant production systems rely on an optimal supply of rumen degradable N and optimal efficiency of utilization of absorbed amino acids (Dijkstra et al., 2013). Generally, in ruminants the observed efficiency of conversion between N consumed and N deposited into protein varies between 20 and 32 %, but the maximum theoretical efficiency should be between 40 and 45 % (Van Vuuren and Meijs, 1987; Hvelplund and Madsen, 1995; Dijkstra, 2013). A practical objective would be to achieve around 40 % conversion, this goal can be reached by formulating for low crude protein (CP) and balancing for AA, as described in this article.

Let the cows speak to you

Cutting-edge ruminant nutritionists are already balancing their diets for AAs rather than crude protein.

We share with you the convincing results from different beta trials testing our Methionine solution in different European farms.