25 April 1997

FORAGES KEEP FAT %LOW

FORAGES can be used as an economical route to maximising milk price and quota use by keeping milk fat percentage low and protein percentage high.

Speaking at its National Forage Conference, Genus national nutritionist Diana Allen said grazed grass is better for producing low fat, high protein milk than grass silage so its use should be maximised.

Grass silage reduces dry matter intakes, but different quality grass silages have differing effects on milk quality.

"High digestibility, well fermented grass silage reduces fat and increases protein. Low digestibility, poorly fermented silage increases fat and decreases protein."

Growing turnips or kale for feeding during forage shortages drops fats and increases proteins, she claimed. "But these forages are highly digestible and if overfed can cause rapid loss of cow condition." She advised offering straw when feeding them.

All mixed forage diets also increase milk protein, she added. However, fodder beet would increase fat, while offering brewers grains or 75% of the forage as maize would lower fat.