Time to look beyond total oil

paying closer attention to the actual fatty acids in the diet will help improve feed efficiency and performance

Time to look beyond total oil

For too long, the fat content in diets has been assessed based on total oil content, but paying closer attention to the actual fatty acids in the diet will help improve feed efficiency and performance, as Mike Chown from UFAC-UK explains.

As we have understood more about the cow’s requirements and how feeds behave in the rumen and elsewhere in the digestive tract, so we have been able to formulate more precise, better performing diets.

For example, when looking at energy we know that we need a balance of starch, sugar and fibrous energy sources fermenting at different rates to optimise rumen function.

Similarly, no-one today would dream of rationing a cow on crude protein because we know much more about how protein is digested and can formulate for RDP, DUP and increasingly, for individual amino acids. By doing so we can more accurately provide what the cow needs.

With regards to oils and fatty acids, many ration programs and feed formulators are still content to just talk in terms of total oil, missing the point that different fatty acids deliver different benefits, while some can have negative impacts on animal performance.

Diet effectiveness and cow performance can both be improved if we go beyond total oil and look at the specific fatty acids.

Fat choice aids digestibility

For example, C18:1 Oleic acid is one of the good guys. It actually has a positive effect on the digestibility of the whole diet and therefore improves feed conversion. On the other hand if your diet contains C18:0, Stearic acid, as many proprietary fat products do, it will reduce the performance of the whole diet as C18:0 actually has a negative effect on total diet digestibility. If you formulate on total oil alone, you will not be maximising overall diet potential.

Similarly, the ratio of fatty acids is important. The optimum ratio of C16:0 to C18:1 will improve NDF fermentation in the diet and boost total energy available.

Finally, some fatty acids cannot be synthesised by the cow and so have to be fed, in particular the omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids which are linked to better reproductive performance and a stronger immune system. Total oil will not tell you whether or not you are feeding cows the essential omega 3 oils they require.

As farmers look to increase efficiency to improve margins, it will pay to look at the actual fatty acids fed as opposed to total oil levels.

Related Stories

New palm-free fat supplement increases milk yields and helps lower carbon footprint

Launch of envirolac has the potential to transform dairy sector performance and enhance sustainability credentials

By UFAC in Latest News

Row of cows eating food

UK Heatwave: Protecting dairy herds from heat stress

As the dry weather period continues across the UK, it’s not only heat stress that our industry needs to contend with. According to the latest report by GrassWatch, grass growth rates are falling and are well below the last 6-year average.

By UFAC in Latest News

Five dairy cows grazing in a field on a sunny day

Precision feeding can help extend grazing period

Technical Manager, Mike Chown, explains how dairy farmers can increase milk from forage and achieve margins through precision feeding.

By UFAC in Latest News

Seven brown cows feeding on grass in a field

Palm-free fat supplementation research results revealed at DairyTech 2022

Results have the potential to transform dairy sector performance and sustainability credentials

By UFAC in Latest News

News

Stay up to date with our latest news & product updates


New palm-free fat supplement increases milk yields and helps lower carbon footprint

By UFAC in Latest News

Row of cows eating food

UK Heatwave: Protecting dairy herds from heat stress

By UFAC in Latest News

Five dairy cows grazing in a field on a sunny day

Precision feeding can help extend grazing period

By UFAC in Latest News

Seven brown cows feeding on grass in a field

Palm-free fat supplementation research results revealed at DairyTech 2022

By UFAC in Latest News

Head and shoulers shot of man smiling, Robert Jones, UFAC.

UFAC-UK announces CIEL supported ruminant research partnership project with University of Nottingham

By UFAC in Latest News

Head and shoulers shot of man smiling, Nigel Bateson, UFAC.

UFAC-UK joins forces with the industry to help promote sustainability of dairy farming

By UFAC in Latest News

Large male orange cow. Standing in front of Harrison and Hetherington backdrop.

Key component of bull ration helps achieve top price

By UFAC in Latest News

Two cows beside UFAC dynalac product.

Palm-free alternative for optimum dairy performance

By UFAC in Latest News

milk splashing

Optimising milk from forage in order to increase margins requires precision feeding

By UFAC in Latest News

Line of cows being milked by milking machine.

Don’t compromise dairy performance by underestimating mycotoxin contamination

By UFAC in Latest News