Formulate for metabolizable protein

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An item that appeared in this column two years ago ― Precision feeding helps reduce feed cost ― addressed the need for precision feeding when trying to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into environmentally sensitive areas, such as the Chesapeake Bay.

But you don’t have to live near the Chesapeake Bay to embrace the precision approach!

The train has already left the station in many instances, and you are doing your clients a disservice if you don’t start moving from a crude protein approach to a metabolizable protein approach.

Your job as a nutritionist is to formulate for metabolizable protein, says Elliot Block, senior manager of technology at Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition. If you are still formulating for crude protein rather than metabolizable protein, you are not doing the best job you can for your clients in terms of improved profitability, he adds.

Here are some of the points that Block and his colleagues at Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition were making at World Dairy Expo in early October:          

  • Crude protein has no relation to what is supplied to the animal that is useful for productive functions. There is no dietary requirement for crude protein, even though many individuals balancing rations still consider it.
  • It is what’s in the protein and its impact on the cow, rumen and/or bacterial output performance that really matters.
  • A combination of rumen bypass protein and bacterial protein reaches the intestine and is available for absorption. These are what the animal needs, and are the nutrients that we use to formulate rations.
  • Metabolizable protein supplies the amino acids the cows need. Metabolizable protein is defined as the true protein that’s digested postruminally, along with its amino acid components that are absorbed by the small intestine. Remember, it is amino acids that are required.

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