For many years, nutritionists have been developing and balancing rations for cows at all stages of lactation with several key components including energy, protein, fat and fiber. Each of these ingredients plays a critical role throughout the cow’s lactation in helping her achieve optimal performance and maintaining body condition.
Historically, fat was added to dairy cow diets mainly to increase the energy density of the ration. Researchers have since gained a better understanding of the role specific fatty acids, including palmitic (C16:0) and stearic (C18:0), can have on a cow’s milk production, milk components and energy metabolism.
The importance of fat
Fat is an essential nutrient in a cow's diet. Balancing dietary fat is not only important for increasing milk volume and milk fat, but it also plays a critical role in supporting intake and retaining body reserves to support sustained performance throughout her entire lactation cycle.
What to look for in a fat supplement
When selecting a fat supplement, choose one that optimizes the fatty acid profile, specifically balancing palmitic and stearic acid. Palmitic acid, or high palm fat products, can help support both milk yield and milk fat. Stearic acid is incorporated to support both milk production and body condition maintenance.
- Digestibility. Digestibility is particularly important for ruminants. A supplement that is extruded and incorporates a highly digestible ingredient like starch will promote optimal digestion to help maintain a healthy rumen.
- Palatability. Highly palatable fats are more effective. Producers can see a drop in intake if the cow does not like the taste or smell of a supplement. Choosing an extruded product over a non-extruded product can help support intake.
- Handling and flowability. Extruded products not only support intake, but they also are easier to handle. Extruded supplements have superior handling and flowability to alleviate the challenges of other fat products.
It’s all about balance
In general, increasing milk fat by feeding only palmitic acid is an accepted way to increase income potential. However, by feeding a balanced, research-proven blend of palmitic and stearic fatty acids like PROPEL® Energy Plus Balance supplement
, producers can see a more significant increase in their overall milk production, milk components and profitability. See graph.
To learn more about how optimal milk volume and fat are key to your operation’s success, contact your local Purina representative to understand how your herd can benefit from PROPEL® Energy Plus Balance supplement
PROPEL is a registered trademark of Purina Animal Nutrition LLC. Because of factors outside of Purina Animal Nutrition LLC’s control, individual results to be obtained, including but not limited to: financial performance, animal condition, health or performance cannot be predicted or guaranteed by Purina Animal Nutrition LLC.