Feed fat works as a supplement to basic feed and concentrated feed components

After birth, the milk pours in and enormous strain is placed on the metabolism, which also requires a large amount of energy. This energy density can often not be ensured by the basic feed and concentrated feed components alone. Therefore, the question arises over which feedstuffs are a sensible supplement and contribute to the support of the energy metabolism. In this context, it is often recommended to add feed fats. Feed fat has a high energy value and improves, purely mathematically, the energy contained in the ration. But what influence does the whole thing have on the metabolism and can this energy be made available to the animal?

JOSERA graphic shows a feed fat energy circulation

Fat mobilisation in metabolism

At the beginning of the energy cycle there is glucose. Blood sugar is the “currency of the body”. Especially in the first 100 days of lactation, most of the glucose is converted into lactose and is therefore an important factor for milk secretion.

However, blood sugar is also an equally important component of the energy cycle. The building blocks of the sugar come from the carbohydrates, which are administered in addition to the submitted ration. If there is a lack of glucose in the blood, the cow begins to break down body fat in order to make additional energy available, as the need can often not be covered by the feed. This is released into the body in the form of activated acetic acid and, if there is sufficient blood sugar, part of it can be introduced into the energy cycle.
If this is not the case, this acetic acid is oxidized and ketone bodies such as acetacetate, acetone and ß-hydroxybutyric acid are formed. If the cow is lactating, she can provide a section of her milk. The characteristics are a fat-protein quotient greater than 1.5:1 and high milk fat contents.
The other part remains in the body and is stored in the liver and occurs in the formation of a fatty liver. This effect is intensified during the dry period. A discharge of ketone bodies via the milk is not possible, thereby these accumulate rapidly in the body. As a side effect, despite an energy deficit, the cow feels a loss of appetite, which further reduces the feed intake.

JOSERA graphic shows a feed fat energy circulation

Intervention at the right time

Just like with body fat, the conversion of feed fat in the body also occurs. Those animals in particular who are suffering from a lack of energy do not get the support they need. The opposite is the case. These animals do not have enough glucose to supply the acetic acid to the energy cycle. The risk of a pronounced ketosis is drastically increased and the metabolism, through the formation of additional ketone bodies, becomes strained and liver damage caused. This has far-reaching consequences for the life performance of a high yielder.

Fat should not be considered as a component of feeding until cows have overcome the depths of negative energy balance. Then, the body has the possibility to integrate the energy from the fat into the energy cycle. However, the question arises as to whether the quantities and costs of fat used are in proportion to the increased milk yield, or whether it would be more advantageous to provide a higher intake of carbohydrates, e.g. through cereals, and thus achieve the same effect.

Further measures to support energy metabolism

It is much more efficient to divide the feeding of the dry cows, transit animals and the Freshcow Group into these three phases in order to cover the needs of the animals as accurately as possible. A further point to make is the need to keep processes that burden the animal in the form of stress (e.g. feeding, pathogens, technopathies, stable climate, metabolic disorders) to a minimum. This stress and possible inflammation must be fought inside the cow’s body and costs a great deal of energy. The body then lacks this elsewhere in crucial metabolic processes. If these factors are minimised, the health of the cow is improved, the immune system is strengthened and a high life efficiency and long service life are made possible. In addition to optimised husbandry conditions and management, DairyPilot FlavoVital® is therefore a suitable means to increase metabolic efficiency in the animal and thus achieve more performance.

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