More Evidence that Feeding Supplemental Potassium Boosts Milk Fat Production

September 19, 2013 02:39 PM

Elliot Block RGB

Trials demonstrate the speed and effectiveness of supplemental potassium in increasing profits due to improved milk components.

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

Increasing milk fat production through improved nutrition offers dairy producers a way to boost their milk check, but too many dairies still leave this opportunity on the table.

It’s not difficult to reap the benefits of supplemental potassium in dairy diets as these two recent university feeding trials show. The research evaluated the impact of supplemental stabilized potassium carbonate on milk fat production in lactating dairy cows—results were presented at the 2013 American Dairy Science Annual Meeting this summer.

1. Distillers grains are commonly fed on dairy farms, but this commodity can present management challenges, as well as milk fat depression, when fed at a high level in the ration. Ohio State University1 research took a look at whether increasing dietary potassium levels with a commercial stabilized potassium carbonate product would have an impact on milk fat depression that often occurs in diets containing high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids—like that found in distiller’s grains.

Results1 (Abstract 469) showed that supplemental stabilized potassium carbonate did increase milk fat levels to overcome some of the negative effects of polyunsaturated fats on milk fat production.

For example, added dietary fat decreased milk fat percentage (2.78% vs. 2.97%; P<0.01) and the researchers discovered that the addition of stabilized potassium carbonate to high fat diets with distillers grains and corn oil partially alleviated milk fat depression. Furthermore, supplemental stabilized potassium carbonate also increased milk fat yield in diets with higher-fat levels.

2. It’s well-documented that stabilized potassium carbonate positively influences milk fat production, but research2 at Washington State University and Clemson University shows just how quickly this dietary ingredient works. Results (Abstract 754) indicate that you don’t have to wait long to see how cows will respond to this dietary ingredient.

Arm   Hammer graph 9 17 13
The researchers confirmed2 a significant (P<0.01) and immediate (within 48 hours) increase in milk fat production after increasing potassium levels in the diet. Milk fat levels rose from 4.06 to 4.28 during the trial. They concluded that for cows with normal milk fat test, the abrupt addition of stabilized potassium carbonate was effective in immediately increasing milk fat percentage.

These trials demonstrate the speed and effectiveness of supplemental potassium in increasing profits due to improved milk components. Don’t lose out on this opportunity.

1 Lamar KC, Weiss WP. Milk fat depression in dairy cows caused by feeding distillers grains and corn oil was partially alleviated by supplementing potassium carbonate. J Dairy Sci 2013; abstract accepted.
2 Ma G, Harrison JH, Block E, Jenkins TC, Nennich TD. Temporal effect of feeding potassium carbonate sesquihydrate on milk fat. J Dairy Sci 2013; Abstract accepted. 

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