Considering Alternative Carbs for Your Dairy Ration?

The traditional recipe for a nutritious dairy ration features corn as the main source of energy. With high corn prices, many producers are finding this dish increasingly costly to serve. In a recent issue of Progressive Dairyman, Dr. Tim Snyder reveals that corn is not the only ingredient that will help keep your herd healthy and high producing. He proposes that there are multiple carbohydrate fractions and sources that should be considered when formulating a ration that will benefit income over feed cost (IOFC).
In 2008, researchers conducted a trial to see how two alternative carbohydrates, beet pulp and wheat midds, would fare as corn substitutes in a dairy ration. Cows were fed three different rations, each providing the same fermentable carbohydrate total (40% under CPM guidelines). However, the carbohydrate source was varied with rations containing 18 percent, 21 percent, or 25 percent total starch (3 percent, 10 percent, or 17 percent corn in ration DM). Results indicated no significant difference in milk production, components, or feed efficiency. The substitutes proved effective in meeting the total fermentable carbohydrate needs.
When it comes to selecting a corn “substitute,” the options are seemingly endless: corn gluten feed, bakery, candy byproduct, rice cakes, sprouts, molasses, whey, chips, granola, beet or citrus pulp, and the list goes on. However, not all alternative carbohydrates are created equal. Ingredients vary in starch content and fermentability, soluble fiber, sugar, digestibility, etc. Current pricing is another variable that needs to be considered.
Using less expensive feed ingredients can help increase IOFC, as long as the new ration formulation continues to provide adequate nutrition. To accurately formulate a ration with carbohydrate substitutes, Dr. Snyder recommends feedstuffs be analyzed at a reputable laboratory.

Read the full article by clicking on the source link below:
“Evaluate rations to get the most IOFC with higher-priced corn” article by Dr. Tim Snyder. Progressive Dairyman, February 8, 2011 issue.
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