Increase Fiber Digestibility for Better Lactation Performance
Written by Dayane Da Silva, Form-A-Feed Nutritionist
Even under an intensive concentrate feeding system, forages are still an important component of dairy cow diets. After all, a cow is a ruminant, and the nutritionist needs to balance rations for fiber in order to keep a functional rumen. However, the energy availability from forages is significantly limited by large quantities of fiber materials forming plant cell walls and as a consequence, it limits feed intake, diet energy density, grain and protein inclusions, starch levels, as well as feed cost. Ultimately, it impacts cow health and lactation performance.
Nutritionists are all familiar with the relationship between fiber digestibility and animal performance. Research over the years has demonstrated that a one-unit increase in non-detergent fiber (NDF) digestion resulted in a 0.51 lb/day increase in milk yield. Cows fed high-fiber digestibility forages consumed more feed and produce more fat-correct milk (FCM) than cows fed lower digestible diets. Low digestible forages tend to ferment slowly and stays in the rumen for longer period of times than other feed components, preventing a cow from eating more and producing more milk. Even though fiber can be extensively digested by rumen microbes, the plant cell wall components digestibility can be limited by depots of lignin, a highly branched polyphenolic macromolecule resistant to chemical and biological degradation. How the other materials in the plant cell wall components are arranged within its structure can also determine digestibility of the plant.
Consider exogenous enzymes and direct fed microbials (DFMs) as part of your animal’s diets as aid to increase digestibility of rations and feed efficiency. Exogenous enzymes and DFMs, when fed at right amounts, will help to release plant cell wall components meeting nutrient demands for greater milk production. Moreover, it will reduce feed costs and ensure greater financial returns.
Form-A-Feed has a variety of exogenous enzymes and DFMs that are tailored to the farm’s specific feeds and forages. Talk to your Form-A-Feed representative for more information about how to enhance digestibility of forages available on your farm, and be more profitable.