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DESIGNING PALATANTS FOR DAIRY COWS

48 | April 2016 - Milling and Grain

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alatants are often used in feed for their ability to confer an attractive smell and taste to feed, with the aim of stimulating intake. The important role of feed palatability in livestock animals, and particularly in some ruminants, is reflected in their sensitivity to the smell and taste of feed, which influences their feeding behaviour. Palatants are regularly included in the diet of dairy cows to enhance palatability and encourage higher feed intake, leading to an improved energy balance in early lactation, and higher milk yield during mid lactation. Currently, the main challenge is to find the most suitable and efficient taste and smell enhancers, to improve feed palatability for dairy cows, in order to obtain the best results. A preference test or choice experiment is a method to assess animal preferences, and is often used to compare preference for different types of feed, and the resulting effect on consumption levels. A flavour preference trial was conducted by Pancosma to evaluate the preference of dairy cows for several different types of flavours. The test involved 16 lactating Holstein cows averaging 197 ± 32 DIM, 1.9 ± 0.8 lactations, 27.8 ± 4.2 kg/d DMI, and 41.5 ± 7.4 kg/d milk yield. Cows were housed in a tie-still barn, and were offered 4 different flavoured concentrate premixes (FCP) once a day for 6 consecutive days, 2 hours after the morning feeding. Each flavour was given in a volume of 1 kg, placed directly in front of the animal in plastic bins. Seven distinct flavours, designed by Pancosma, were tested, as well as a neutral feed that acted as a control. The cows were not adapted to the flavours prior to the trial, and the control was not their usual feed. In order to avoid any bias due to the strength of the smell, flavour dosages were fixed so as to have similar intensity outcomes for all the products. The inclusion rates of the flavours were all between 250 – 300 g/t on an as-is basis. The different flavours used and the positons in which the flavours were placed in front of the cows were randomized. The cows had access to the FCP for 5 minutes from the moment they started eating. Eating times were recorded, and consumed FCP and consumption rates were analysed. The trials identified specific flavours which were clearly preferred, with consumption increased up to 19 percent compared to the control, and up to 50 percent compared to the other flavours tested. There was no significant effect of the position of the bins containing the flavours, on the amount of feed consumer In conclusion, the flavour profile of feed is an important parameter that affects the feeding behaviour of dairy cows, and has significant implications on feed intake, animal performance, and milk yield. Designing the most suitable palatant requires a thorough understanding of animal preferences, and is crucial in providing an economical and reliable solution for farmers to obtain the best results for their animals. http://pancosma.com

APR 2016 - Milling and Grain magazine  
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