There are numerous dietary factors that can result in milk fat depression in the dairy cow. The common factors are too little forage, rapidly degraded starch in the rumen, and too much fat or free fatty acids. Each of these has a role in negatively affecting the rumen environment. Once these dietary management factors are corrected, milk fat usually returns to normal.

What about the cow that has a normal fat test, say 4.0 percent milk fat? Are there any dietary management options to improve fat production in cows that would appear to have a normal fat test?

"We have been studying the role of dietary cation-anion (DCAD) balance in early lactation on efficiency of milk production and have observed that cows that have a normal fat test can benefit from supplemental K (potassium) in the form of potassium carbonate sesquihydrate," says Joe Harrison, professor and livestock nutrient management specialist at Washington State University.

"As a result of a collaborative relationship with Clemson University, we may have an explanation for the increased milk fat test," Harrison writes in the October 2012 Washington State University Dairy Newsletter.


Source: October 2012 Washington State University Dairy Newsletter