Better dairy feeding can cut nitrogen pollution and raise margins

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Length: 219 words; 1-2 minutes

Dairy cows feeding

With agriculture responsible for 88% of the UK’s ammonia emissions, improving nitrogen use efficiency will be critical to meeting upcoming atmospheric pollution targets. Better feeding can help, claims KW nutritionist Dr Anna Sutcliffe, and also offers an opportunity to cut costs and raise margins.

“Around 75% of the nitrogen fed to dairy cows is excreted in urine or faeces, much of which is lost as ammonia or nitrous oxide into the atmosphere,” she states. “That’s not only a pollution issue, it’s also a massive waste of costly nutrients.”

Research at CEDAR has shown that improving nitrogen use efficiency can allow dairy ration crude protein levels to be cut from 18% to 16% with no loss in performance.

“Grass silage is the major source of rumen degradable protein (RDP) in most dairy rations, but levels can vary hugely. Yet balancing that RDP with the right spread of energy from sugars, starch and digestible fibre is essential if the nitrogen is to be efficiently captured by the rumen microbes.

UK-produced NovaPro is a highly cost-effective source or rumen-bypass protein.

“Regular analysis of silages is therefore critical to keep rations on track,” Dr Sutcliffe explains. “Combined with targeted use of high value rumen-bypass proteins like NovaPro hot-pressed rapeseed expeller or SoyPass heat-treated soyabean meal to meet remaining cow requirements, the result can be a reduction in both nitrogen wastage and ration costs.”

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