Mastering Milk Fat Depression
Depending on how you are paid, butterfat milk usually affects your milk check significantly. Here are some key areas to look at that can influence milk fat production:
Look into your total mixed ration (TMR) carefully.
Evaluate delivery times, feed refusals, bunk space availability and overcrowding.
Avoid slug feeding as it can create subclinical acidosis which impacts milk fat.
2) Forage and fiber in ration
It is crucial to examine the forage and fiber levels in the diet.
Use Penn State Shaker Box to evaluate particle length.
The goal is to have 47 % of the TMR in the bottom and 7 % on top.
Cud chewing is also a good indicator of forage and fiber in the diet.
Look for 50% or better of the pen to be chewing their cud.
The % of neutral detergent fiber digestibility (NDFD) should also be evaluated to make sure it isn't too high.
3) Starch content
Evaluate how much starch is being fed.
Technology such as rumen degradable starch testing will be able to help assess starch levels in the ration and how they will perform in the cow.
Different ingredients ferment faster in the rumen than others.
This will affect the dynamic of rumen and can have major impact on milk fat levels.
It is crucial to be aware of rate of starch digestion when trouble shooting for milk fat depresion.
Evaluate the fat level and source in the ration.
There should not be more than 5% fat in the diet.
Source of the fat is also very important as different compositions of fat will impact the milk fat.
It is important to know the level of saturation of fat sources that you are feeding your cows.
5) Yeasts and molds
Evaluate level of yeast and mold that might be in the diet.
Lower the amount of feed coming from the affected source.
Studies are still ongoing on the negative impact yeast and mold have on milk fat depression.
6) Feed additives
Feed additives can help with milk fat level.
One of them would be rumen bypass fat as it contains high palmitic acid which is known to improve milk fat level.
When formulating rations, it is always a priority to feed every cow exactly what she needs, where she needs it and when she needs it. This approach will help dairy farmers improve efficiency and increase bottom line.