12 December 1997

Fish oil choice

DAIRY producers considering using fish oil based feed supplements to reduce milk fat % and save quota should first consider the cost versus the benefits.

Bibby Agricultures Tim Harrington believes producers significantly over quota should cut milk fat % to lessen the risk of super-levy by modifying cow diets. Using 0.5kg of an oil blend would reduce fat by 1%, and maintain or increase daily yield.

But ADASs David Peers warns that this can be expensive.

These additives influence fibre digestion in the rumen, but the change in fat % is unpredictable, and the effect may only last a month, he says. It may be cheaper to lease quota or to manipulate feeding by altering the forage to concentrate ratio, says Dr Peers.

although he advises against paying super-levy or tipping milk away.

Another way to cope in an over-quota situation is to cut yields by reducing concentrate feeding.

"Check concentrate is offered to the right cows. You can challenge late lactation cows, but for early lactation cows it is not sensible to reduce concentrate when fertility or milk protein could suffer," says Dr Peers.