Achieving and Maintaining Strong Dairy Milk Components

Posted: April 8, 2020 | Written By: Matt Honsey, Form-A-Feed Nutrition and Production Specialist

milk components

Strong milk components have been and always should be an important topic to discuss on dairies.  In no specific order, here are some fundamental points I think about, check, or look at when this topic is brought up.

  • Know the intakes of the cows! There are many factors that are unknown if you don’t know how much she’s eating.
  • Current feed samples – make sure you have them.
  • Mold and yeast. If you have any issues here after sampling, make a plan on how to best manage high levels.  There are absolutely things you can discuss with your Form-A-Feed representative to be proactive here!
  • Good digestible fiber. Do you have enough? If this area is marginal, yet your starch digestibility in the diet is off-the-charts good, there can be an imbalance here that can affect what you’re seeing in milk components.
  • Starch content and source.  I already mentioned starch digestibility as an important point.  If the digestibility is an issue (either fast or slow), this can be managed extremely effectively with multiple starch sources!  High moisture corn and earlage/snaplage are more common this year than in previous years because of our wet fall and the high cost of drying corn.  If this starch is a little too “fast digesting” and needs to slow down (corn silage included too) to complement the rest of the diet and maintain strong components (butterfat), then consider adding 2-3 pounds of dry ground corn.  It can help!
  • Amino acids are definitely something to make sure to also look at, specifically lysine and methionine. There certainly are many other amino acids but these two are a couple of the major ones.  Find out the ratio of lysine to methionine and/or the grams of each.  Recommended guidelines are a ratio of 2.5:1 to 3:1 or 170 grams lysine and 65-70 grams methionine. How do your numbers look?  When it comes to strengthening your milk component protein, consider a methionine blend of 2-3 different sources to take advantage of the different methionine digestion time points and areas of digestion within the cow.
  • Form-A-Feed has a methionine blend called Valles M2 with all of these features that can help!  Simply ask your Form-A-Feed representative for more information on it.
  • I mentioned digestible fiber and I think it’s worth mentioning one more time! This is extremely important in every aspect of the diet, from milk production to high milk components.  Digestible fiber is extremely important. 
  • Lastly, consider the use of a good prebiotic, probiotic, and enzyme blend in your diet, which can do so many good things! From improved fiber digestion to improved overall health, one or more of these items can show a quick benefit in multiple ways.  Did you know that over 75% of our cow’s immune system is right within their GI tract?  We can take care of this immune system with a balanced diet, a “good” microbial bug population (probiotics), a food source (prebiotics) to keep those “good” bugs happy, and enzymes for added fiber and/or starch digestion.

The list could certainly go on with additional areas to look at but these are some key areas I pay close attention to when it comes to achieving strong milk components. Do you have questions or are looking for some help in improving your milk components? Reach out to your Form-A-Feed representative!