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Balancing the Ration to Optimise Rumen Health

Balancing the Ration to Optimise Rumen Health

Recent silage analysis from across the country has shown variation in nutrient analysis, this may pose feeding challenges to farmers this Autumn and consideration needs to be given to balancing the ration to optimise rumen health and maintain performance.

Rations needs to be balanced, with the inclusion of bioavailable minerals to support milk yield and quality to ensure to impact isn’t seen in the milk tank, with lower butterfat and protein levels.

Is it worth considering a yeast supplement?

It is worth considering a yeast supplement to support the rumen microbial population and improve digestion of the fibre in silage, therefore improve butterfats. Buffers such as pHix-up, provide highly bioavailable forms of magnesium. This means more is available to the cow, and you see a subsequent performance response over other buffers, with a lift in butterfat and then protein percentage. The quality and bioavailability of any mineral supplement is impacted by the source, the processing, and whether it is organic or chelated.

Supporting rumen health during ration changes

In pHix-up, the magnesium is over 75% bioavailable, almost twice as high as most other standard Cal-Mag Magnesium sources. Its inclusion will support rumen health during ration changes, such as moving from grazing to housed, or changes in silage pits, which will drive butterfat percentages up and maintain high milk yields.

Lush early cut silage, with high lactic acid levels, above 70g/kg, can also cause rumen health issues, so pHix-up can play a role here too. Look out for loose muck, cud-balls, and reduced butterfat levels, which could all be signs of SARA (acidosis) - a costly problem for any farmer.

As a result of the lower and more variable protein levels in silage, there may be lower levels of rumen degradable protein in the ration. To prevent any impact on milk yield and quality, and to support protein efficiency, rations may need to be supplemented with adequate rumen degradable protein.

There is considerable volatility in protein sources regarding price, availability, sustainability, and environmental pressures. To remain cost-effective, it’s important to consider a balanced diet and the price of the overall ration in relation to what milk yield it can support, rather than the price of individual raw materials or compound feed. When considering protein efficiency,  nutritionists must also look to ensure there’s adequate bypass protein, sufficient rumen degradable protein, and balance for amino acids, without supplying in excess which could be indicated in high milk ureas.


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