Robert A. Patton, of Nittany Dairy Nutrition Inc., in, Mifflinburg, Pa., offers these tips for amino acid balancing of dairy cow rations:

  • The newer computer models make it pretty easy to balance amino acids — and they do both an accurate and precise job of it. In addition to methionine and lysine, we need to pay attention to histidine balance as well. The idea of balancing for ratios is proving to be less valuable than grams. (View a webinar on amino acid-balancing software and models.)
  • Because of the complexities of supplying amino acids to the small intestine of a cow, models must be used to predict this supply.
  • Pick a model with which you are comfortable. Learn to use it to get the results that you are expecting.
  • The three situations where amino acid balance is critical are (1) reducing protein consumption, (2) balancing fresh cow diets, and (3) increasing milk protein. Reducing dietary protein is the best use of amino acid balance.
  • Do not attempt amino acid balance unless the actual dry matter intake is known for each group of cows.
  • Because many things can affect the response to amino acid balance, especially energy from non-fiber carbohydrate (NFC), check to make sure the energy from NFC is adequate. Adding energy from fat will reduce the milk protein percentage, although more pounds of milk may be produced.
  • Investment of time and study to understand the complexities of amino acid balance will result in more profit for clients, while reducing the burden on the nutritionist.

Read Patton’s full report on amino acid balancing.