• Jin Gan

Reducing Nutrient Shrink In Your Rations


When feed costs increases, many farmers will try to reduce shrink of feed ingredients on the dairy. They will normally focus on the total volume of feed but do not take into account the nutrients within the feed.

When maximum amount of nutrient cannot be utilized from the ration as fed, it is a form of waste or "shrink". Nutrient shrink usually occurs in 3 ways:

1. Feeds are fed before maximum amount of nutrition can be extracted efficiently from them.

  • One example is when corn silage is fed before prolamin matrix is broken down.

2. Feeds are fed without proper preservation of the nutrients.

  • Unsaturated fatty acids are broken down or oxidized when they are exposed to air.

  • This usually happens more often during summertime and is one of the key factors of heating of the feed at the bnk.

  • The breakdown of fat leads to a reduction in the amount of energy that can be utilized by the cow.

3. Increased dry matter intake results in increased rate of passage.

  • Due to this, the substrates in the feed are not in the GI tract long enough to have the nutrients extracted from the feed completely.

When feed prices are low, nutritionist accepted nutrient shrink and made adjustments and moved on so as long as the cows were producing enough to be profitable. However, when feed costs are high, nutritionists were evaluating how to get more production with less feed. One way is to reduce nutrient shrink. Ways to reduce nutrient shrink:

1. Plan for the future.

  • Increase your inventory of corn silage so that in time, less and less corn silage is fed out before it is fully fermented and the prolamin matrix has broken down.

  • Producers who do this can save considerably as they do not need to supplement extra energy and starch.

2. Feed a dietary antioxidant.

  • Research has shown that feeding dietary antioxidant can help improve fat-corrected milk when unsaturated fat (calculating based on dry matter) is between 2 - 3.5% of the diet.

  • The main reason being antioxidant protects the unsaturated fats from breaking down and more energy is available for the cow to put toward productive functions.

3. Control dry matter intake by supplementing fiber.

  • Fiber such as soybean hulls, cottonseed hulls and almond hulls can help to slow down the rate of passage so that the production can be maintained using less feed.

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