As the cost of production and especially feed costs continue to rise, feed efficiency becomes an increasingly important performance measure of overall profitability. Simply focusing on feed efficiency (FE) as the amount (kg) of energy corrected milk produced per kilogram of dry matter consumed, can yield great rewards. A single increment increase in FE from 1,4 to 1,5 can significantly increase profitability of a dairy herd by thousands of rand.

Trace minerals impact FE through improved health, better utilisation of nutrients and increased milk production, thus diluting the cow’s maintenance requirements. Insufficient trace mineral availability (or status) may lead to depression in immunity and optimal enzyme function, followed by a decrease in production.

Improved animal health leads to better FE, since fewer nutrients are being diverted to immune functions. Zinc helps minimise mammary gland infection as a summary of 12 studies shows. Feeding complexed zinc decreased somatic cell count by an average of 33%. Research suggests a close association between health disorders and immune depression. Improved animal health and more efficient nutrient utilisation, may partially explain the 6,5% improvement in FE when 360 mg of inorganic zinc was replaced with 360 mg zinc from Zinpro Performance Minerals.

Cobalt is probably the trace mineral showing the most positive effect on FE. The conversion of feed to milk energy in two studies, improved 2,56% and 7,37% when cows were supplemented with 10 mg/day and 20 mg/day of cobalt from COPRO® cobalt glucoheptonate.

This response may be attributed to several factors including increased fibre digestion and Vitamin B12 synthesis.

Finally, improved milk production shown in a summary of 20 trials found that feeding lactating dairy cattle a combination of zinc, manganese, copper and cobalt from Zinpro Performance Minerals, resulted in 0,9 kg/day more energy corrected milk. While FE was not measured in these studies, FE was mostly likely improved due to a dilution of the cow’s maintenance requirements.

Zinpro and Chemuniqué are committed to improving the success of dairies by improving feed efficiency and therefore profitability. Zinpro FEDTM (feed efficiency determinator) is an interactive software programme from Zinpro Corporation which is designed to analyse and more accurately estimate the true FE of your dairy herd.

Talk to your nutritionist or feed sales representative about this interesting management tool and the inclusion of Zinpro Performance Minerals in the diets of your dairy animals.

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