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Dairy switches to new amino acid feeding option

PD Editor Walt Cooley Published on 28 June 2013

Boosting overall wellness and immune function as well as improving feed efficiency are the goals at Liberty Dairy in the Pacific Northwest. Amino acid balancing in the dairy’s milking ration is a critical part of achieving them.

“With the ingredients we are using, we are trying to balance, as near as we can, for amino acids,” the dairy’s nutritionist, Dr. Dick Koritansky says.

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“One of the things we can usually predict is that we are going to get a bit of a milk response when we balance for amino acids, especially lysine and methionine. We can get a protein component increase and an increase in milk production.”

The 6,000-cow dairy in Washington’s Yakima Valley has been amino acid balancing for five years. Koritansky says amino acid balancing increases the dairy’s feed efficiency.

Click here to download a PDF of the high-cow ration chart for Liberty Dairy.

And without sacrificing production, the dairy’s records show that dry matter intakes are lower with an animo acid-balanced ration. The dairy monitors feed efficiency, using feed management software, several times per week.

“Economically, I feel balancing for amino acids always fits in,” Koritansky says.

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Switching rumen-bypass sources

Recently the dairy switched its source of supplemental rumen-protected lysine to a new source of soybean meal fortified with lysine, known as Soy Best Pearl.

“Soy Best Pearl is jumping up my lysine levels where we want them,” Koritansky says. “Economically, it’s giving us the response we want.”

Prior to using the new product, Koritansky was providing supplemental amino acids through a blood meal-based product, ProvAAl Elite . It was an “excellent product” but just got too expensive to be feasible for Liberty Dairy.

“Elsewhere, I’m still using ProvAAl Elite, containing Smartamine, which is in short supply in the U.S.,” Koritansky says. “I’ve got a group of dairymen in another part of the country that are still using that product because they are performing so well on it.”

In the past, Koritansky has used most of the commercial amino acid additives on the market. However, lately his go-to source for supplemental amino acid protein is blood meal or the Soy Best product.

“I think Soy Best’s is one of the best rumen-undegradable, or rumen-bypass, protein sources currently available,” Koritansky says. “It makes a really nice total package.”

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His rations are usually including 15.5 to 17 percent crude protein and his milk urea nitrogen levels are between 9 and 12 mg per dl. The dairy tests its corn silage for protein levels every two to four weeks. It periodically spot-checks loads of the alfalfa hay it purchases.

“We go through hay so fast based on the volume we’re feeding,” Koritansky says. “We’re not testing all of the different batches that come in, so sometimes I’m up or down a bit in estimating protein inclusion.”

Koritansky says if he could change anything about the amino acid balance in the ration it would be to include a bit more methionine.

“If I’m a bit low on anything, it would be methionine,” he says. “If that could be packaged with the Soy Best product, it would help us on this dairy.”

Trying something else new

This time last year Koritansky began feeding the dairy’s milking string a new extruded flax seed product, known as Great03 Premium Feed .

Koritansky says the product “encapsulates” beneficial omega-3 fatty acids for rumen bypass, and at the same time, the protein fraction of the feed escapes the rumen and becomes part of the available rumen-undegradable protein.

The ALA omega-3 fatty acids in the product have boosted the reproductive efficiency of the herd and provided a 3-pound increase in milk production, similar, Koritansky says, to new fatty acid research from Dr. Jose Santos of the University of Florida.

Koritansky says the 60,000 cows he feeds on the product seem to peak higher in milk at freshening and maintain higher overall lactation production averages when it’s included in the ration.

“We’re getting a lot of milk; we’re getting the reproductive efficiency, and when you balance the ration with amino acids, you double up on those responses.”

Balancing for the future

Koritansky believes the 18 percent crude protein diet is well in the past.

“Traditionally in the dairy industry, we’ve overfed protein hoping to hit all the necessary protein levels,” Koritansky says. “But cows don’t require protein, they require amino acids. On this dairy, including more supplemental lysine jumps up the price per unit of feed, but the response we get outweighs the cost. PD

Walt Cooley
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