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3 Tips to Evaluate Your Herd’s Dietary Fat Sources

June 26, 2014
Nutrition Forages at dairy 4 23 12 089   Copy
  
 
 

Think you’re getting the same value from different fat sources? Not necessarily.

By Dr. Elliot Block, Research Fellow, Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition

Supplemental fat, especially in early lactation, supports milk production, helps cows retain body condition and positively influences reproductive performance. Plus, fats contain 2.25 times more energy than starches and digestible fiber found in common grain or forages sources.1

Add in the fact that ration ingredients high in fat content are economical and more available than ever, and it’s easy to understand why supplemental fat feeding has become a common practice for producers seeking to increase ration energy levels and increase milk production.

The challenge is that many dairy producers think they are getting the same value from different fat sources. But that’s not necessarily the case.

Fats Are Not Created Equal
The differences in response to various supplemental fat sources are more profound than almost any other nutritional intervention studied to date. Available research clearly demonstrates that fats aren’t just fats.

For example, a meta-analysis2 published in the June 2012 Journal of Dairy Science and illustrated in Table 1 shows just how much different fat sources impact important milk production parameters.

Table 1. Effect of supplementing different sources to lactating dairy cows.2