Ruminant

Profound effects on dairy herd sustainability

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October 11, 2023 dairy, dairy cows, sustainability

As the dairy industry actively works to reduce its contribution to climate change, a number of avenues are being pursued. While methane mitigation is grabbing the headlines today, one very important avenue is flying under the radar:  improving the efficiency of use of dietary nitrogen in ruminant rations. The end goal is to reduce nitrogen excretion into the environment by:

·       Reducing crude protein in the ration,

·       Increasing the efficiency of use of the N in CP, and

·       Minimizing the nitrogen excreted (converted to nitrous oxide) without impacting dairy performance and profitability.

                                                        

This webinar focuses on:

·       The magnitude and positive consequences of lowering dietary crude protein on improving the efficiency of N utilization,

·       The limits to reducing the CP content of rations without hurting performance,

·       The opportunity of amino acid balancing diets to not only increase performance but simultaneously further lower dietary CP levels,

·       What analytical and feed management  practices will be needed to dial in low-protein AA balanced diets that will ensure high performance is maintained,

·       How the art of ration formulation may change as the industry is encouraged to take into account the origin of the ingredients in rations,

·       Interest in eventually formulating rations not only on classical nutrients but also on carbon footprint specifications, and

·       The KPIs to best capture the positive carbon footprint effects of AA balancing on lifetime performance. This would integrate heifer rearing costs, time to first calving, transition cow health and reproduction success, lower involuntary culling and ultimately cows having more lactations in the herd.

 

Much is to be gained by managing all N inputs on dairy farms efficiently.  The gains from lowering CP levels in tandem with AA balancing are at least as important as the potential gains from methane mitigation strategies and luckily will work together to achieve sustainable goals.   

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