2 February 1996

Protein comes under question

ESSEX cattle breeder Peter Padfield has not changed his breeding objectives despite selling milk to Lord Rayleighs Dairies.

It pays a flat rate a litre with no bonuses or penalties on compositional quality above a minimal level. He still selects on milk and solids production plus type. However, selling his milk to the liquid market has changed the emphasis on his feeding policy.

"We have deliberately fed to reduce our fat percentages to maximise production within quota and we make little effort to feed for high protein percentages," he says. "I am told that it costs an extra £10 a tonne to feed for an extra 0.1% protein. This would cost us an extra £40 a cow.

"As only 25% of the nations milk goes into cheese production, I question why so much emphasis is placed on protein and why so many milk buyers relate payment so closely to protein percentages."

One reason is predictions that there will be a standardisation of protein % in milk but Mr Padfield fails to see justification or consumer demand for this.

"Amino acids in milk mean that milk protein is of higher value than protein derived from vegetable sources. But, in nutritional terms there is little difference between milk at 3.4% protein and at 3.2%, yet the cost to the producer of achieving an extra 0.2% could be high. &#42