Improving pasture to milk conversion

By Alun Faulkner

With rising feed costs, the efficient conversion of feed into milk should be one of the cornerstones of profitability in the dairy herd. In New Zealand, with its forage (grass and silage) based systems, it is important that grass consumed by the cow is converted into milk solids as efficiently as possible.

The rumen of the cow is responsible for the conversion of forage into energy and microbial protein via the action of rumen microbes that include bacteria, protozoa and fungi. The fibre-digesting bacteria are dependent on the rumen environment to operate effectively and, in particular, these bacteria require a pH >6.0 and an oxygen-free environment to be fully functional. The increased feeding of grain based feeds, although beneficial for microbe production in the rumen and consequently milk production, tends to result in a decrease in pH resulting in poorer forage digestion and sub-acute ruminal acidosis (SARA).

Early animal nutritionists recognised the beneficial impact that live yeasts could have to optimise environmental conditions in the rumen. Today, with better technology available, Lallemand have identified and isolated a strain of live yeast (Levucell SC or Saccharoymces cerevisiae 1-1077) that is specifically selected to improve rumen function. It does this by increasing the number of fibre digesting microbes in the rumen, stimulating the enzymatic activities of these microbes and scavenging residual oxygen thereby stabilising the pH in the rumen.

A combination of these actions in the rumen, results in an improved fibre digestibility and consequently a better conversion of forage into milk.

- Hamilton News

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