June 07, 2016

07/06/2016: Designing palatants for dairy cows

First published in Milling and Grain, April 2016

Palatants 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.

Read the full article in Milling and Grain HERE

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