Innovative ruminant diet formulation needed as feed costs soar

With high feed costs jeopardising profitability, dairy and beef producers are being encouraged to utilise proven feed additives to make diets more cost effective and flexible, replicating the approach taken in monogastric diet formulation.

“Fine tuning ruminant diets with proven feed additives such as live yeasts could help increase milk or meat production per kilogram (kg) of feed or support lower cost rations while maintaining productivity,” says Mark McFarland, feed additive product manager at Lallemand Animal Nutrition.

He says that in pig and poultry diets, several feed additives have been accepted for decades for improving the productive value of commercial feeds, but the use of additives in the ruminant sector is much less consistent.

“The use of enzymes for example, are a routine part of monogastric ration formulation that offer flexibility in formulating least cost diets. Similar benefits are to be had from using feed additives such as live yeasts in ruminant rations, however this is not currently standard practice, despite the positive response on digestion and feed efficiency being well documented.”

Mr McFarland says the dairy and beef sector could benefit greatly from more innovative ration formulation that supports least and iso-cost diets.

“Up to 75% of feed is digested in the rumen, which is essentially a huge fermentation vat that hosts a complex anaerobic microbiota, with over 100 billion microbes per millilitre of rumen fluid. Getting the microbial balance within the rumen right, can make a significant difference to the animal’s ability to digest feed, particularly the fibre fraction of the diet,” he explains.

Feed additives that favourably modify the rumen environment can therefore be an incredibly useful tool to optimise ruminant diet formulation he says, although advises selecting those that have robust scientific backing, citing the rumen specific live yeast strain Saccharomyces cerevisiae CNCM I-1077 known commercially as Levucell SC as a good example.

“The effects and modes of action of the live yeast Levucell SC on rumen microbiota have been extensively studied. The main benefits shown include stabilising ruminal pH, increasing fibre degradation and digestibility, and speeding up rumen maturity in youngstock,” says Mr McFarland.

Specifically looking at the evidence to support the beneficial impact of this strain of live yeast on neutral detergent fibre (NDF) degradability, he says that research suggests that Levucell SC can increase NDF digestibility of forage by 3 to 8 units, depending on the type of forage and its own degradability.

One of the barriers to better utilising feed additives in ruminant ration formulation has been a difficulty in predicting the nutritional value they carry. But according to Mr McFarland, significant progress has been made in model refinements over the past years, through the inclusion of biological and dynamic pathways for ruminant digestion.

“These non-linear refined models provide a path for innovative diet formulation, offering opportunities to fine-tune the prediction of the nutritional values of diets, including potential sub-models for a rumen modifier,” he explains.

“The improved accuracy in formulation this offers, makes feed additives such as Levucell SC an increasingly valuable tool for ruminant nutritionists, especially as feed prices continue to escalate,” Mr McFarland concludes.

1Guedes et al., 2008; Guedes et al., 2015; Chaucheyras-Durand et al, 2010, Ding et al, 2014.

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Man fined £300 for bonfire-related waste offences

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Written by William Kellett from Agriland

A man has pleaded guilty at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court to waste offences relating to a bonfire next to the electrical sub-station on the Circular Road in Newtownards, Co. Down.

Gareth Gill (51) of Abbot’s Walk, Newtownards pleaded guilty to two charges under the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, for which he was fined £150 each and ordered to pay a £15 offender’s levy

On June 25, 2018, PSNI officers went to Gill’s yard, where they found a large amount of waste consisting of scrap wood, pallets, carpet and underlay.

Discussion with Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) officers confirmed the site...