SCA NuTec is launching a new feed supplement this autumn that can increase feed efficiency and milk yield. Developed through its parent company Provimi's research and development facility, the new supplement, Amaferm, is a natural feed additive that can improve fibre digestion and milk yields.
Amaferm works by providing rumen fungi with the nutrients they need to accelerate fibre digestion. The rumen cannot function without fungi as they are responsible for breaking down cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin. Rumen fungi are first to invade the plant wall, usually within 30 seconds of feeding.
"If we can improve fibre digestion then we see feed intakes improve, feed efficiency improve and subsequently milk yields also increase," says SCA NuTec’s technical ruminant manager Norman Downey. "Amaferm will maximise the digestibility of rumen fibre and improve the synthesis of microbial protein. These both help to improve feed efficiency and, in turn, milk yields."
Widespread trials have proved the benefits of Amaferm. Laboratory tests show a 27% increase in rumen fungal growth and an 87% increase in cellulase activity compared with the control – both of these components play a vital part in fibre digestion in the rumen.
It has been shown that an improvement in rumen fibre digestion of 1% increases dry matter intakes by 0.17kg and milk yield by 0.25kg. Results from 18 different on-farm trials, with cows in early, mid and late lactation, show an average increase in milk yield of 4.5% where Amaferm is used compared with the control.
Closer to home, trials on two farms in Lancashire have shown positive responses in milk yield, around 2kg a day, where Amaferm was included as part of the total mixed ration. Where Amaferm was included, at a rate of 4g per cow per day in the ration fed to a herd of 134 Holsteins, milk yield increased from an average of 30 litres per cow per day to a maximum of 31.89 litres. Costing 9.5p per cow per day and based on a milk price of 25ppl this provided a return on investment of 5 to 1.
"Even at a lower milk price, Amaferm still gives a good return on investment – at a milk price of 23ppl, an increase of only 0.4 litres would be needed to cover the cost and Amaferm is consistently out-performing this." SCA NuTec recommends including Amaferm in blends or as part of a farm pack for TMR diets and including it in milking cow rations at a rate of between 3g and 5g per cow per day.
"Amaferm is a very relevant and effective feed additive in today’s climate of high feed costs and the drive to improve fibre use," adds Mr Downey. "There is a greater availability of fibrous feeds, such as by-products from the bio fuel industry, so looking ahead Amaferm has a justified place in dairy cow rations."