Increase high milk production even higher with less concentrated feed and lower feed costs. And the cows become visibly more content. That’s the remarkable results of a practical trial with gelatinized corn flakes. Slow-release energy in the rumen as an alternative to bypass starch.
Dairy farmers are continuously on the look out for opportunities to utilise their own roughage and the protein in the feed ration in a better way. The rumen plays a key role in this. For high production while maintaining health and fertility, cows need a lot of energy but there is always a risk of rumen acidosis.
Feeds with bypass starch are a safe solution because they get past the rumen and are digested in the gut. Cattle farmers also see the limitations of this in practice. A lot of bypass starch makes cows sluggish. And if fed too much, the animals develop runny manure.
Corn flakes: slow-release of starch in the rumen
Gelatinized corn flakes appear to be an interesting alternative. In combination with corn flakes, outdoor grazing ensures energy is released slowly.
Nutritionist Marc Boer from FeedValid: ‘Although the starch is digested in the rumen, the flakes do not cause rumen acidity. That is because of a special property. The form and shape of the flakes makes them stick in the floating mat of the rumen. Nestling there safely, they gradually release the starch. This slow-release character guarantees a continuous, steady supply of energy for the rumen microbes. That differentiates gelatinized corn flakes from feeds with ‘quick’ energy.’
Practical trial corn flakes at 4 highly productive businesses
The cattle farmers who tried the gelatinized corn flakes in practice are enthusiastic. To further substantiate these positive experiences, producer FeedValid set up a practical trial in collaboration with a compound-feed producer. This took place in the first quarter of 2020 at 4 highly productive (>10,500 kg) dairy businesses.
The practical experiment was carried out over 3 periods of 6 weeks. During these periods, all data were collected with regard to milk production (tank milk + milk control), feed intake, manure consistency, general condition of the animals and behavior / appearance of the herd. Among other things, the feed efficiencies and the feed costs per animal per day have been calculated. These calculated values were compared with the average development of the affiliated clientele of the compound feed company.
The participating dairy farmers replaced the combination of starch-rich concentrated feed and single feed ingredients (maize meal, wheat meal) with the gelatinized corn flakes. On average they gave 2.3 kg while the total starch content of the feed ration stayed the same.
|Farm 1||Farm 2||Farm 3||Farm 4||Average|
|Kg milk / cow||+ 1.6||+ 0.1||+ 1.2||+ 0.6||+ 1|
|% fat||- 0.05||- 0.02||- 0.3||- 0.05||- 0.11|
|% protein||- 0.03||0.02||0.02||- 0.05||- 0.01|
|Urea||- 1||- 5||1||0||- 1|
|C16:0||- 0.9||- 0.2||0,8||-0.2||- 0.1|
|Calculated Ration Efficiency||- 0.08||0.05||0.00||0.12||0.02|
|Effect on feed costs / cow / day||+ 0.05||- 0.51||- 0.55||- 0.48||- 0.37|
|Ratio of grass silage: corn silage (%)||100:0||67:33||48:52||58:42|
|Corn flakes (kg)||1.3||1.3||3.5||2.9||2.3|
More milk, lower costs
The results show a clear effect. On average, the cows yielded an addition 1 kg of milk per animal per day. The milk protein content remained constant while the milk fat content was reduced slightly. The urea content in the milk remained stable. More milk with a constant feed intake leads to a better feed efficiency (0.02). Feed costs are also lower because corn flakes are cheaper than the starch-rich products which were replaced at the businesses involved in the trial. This amounted to a saving of €0.37 per animal per day for the businesses. Converted to a farm with 150 mature dairy cattle, that would add up to a saving of € 50/day or € 18,000 on an annual basis.
Healthier cows and firmer manure
The researchers also continuously monitored the condition and behaviour of the animals and the manure consistency. The score for condition was unchanged but the cows made a visibly healthier impression and the manure became firmer. You can therefore see directly in the stall what happens if you replace bypass starch with slow-release starch.
Corn flakes are also of great interest when combined with outdoor grazing. The slowly released energy ensures ruminal synchrony. At the start of the day, grazing cattle gorge themselves completely full with protein-rich grass and then lay for hours in the pasture chewing. In this period, you always need enough starch at rumen level to enable the rumen bacteria to utilise the protein fraction of the meadow grass.