21 December 2001

Sugar supplements boost cow rations

ALTHOUGH cereals are cheaper, replacing a proportion of cereal in dairy rations with sugar supplements improves rumen function and prevents mild acidosis.

Rumen microbes will work harder for the cow when supplied with a range of energy sources, says Intermol nutritionist Ewan Mackintosh. "Feeding both starch and sugar will promote a broader range of microbes and prevent mild acidosis.

"Mild acidosis is likely to be more widespread this winter with cows fed high levels of maize silage."

Some producers keep adding starch to the ration to increase energy density, as cereals are cheaper than molasses-based feeds on a metabolisable energy basis. But it is the type of energy that is important, he says.

In a Reading University study, replacing 40% of wheat with a molasses and urea product improved rumen function and increased the supply of substrates available for milk production.

"Another benefit of liquid sugar supplements is the lower substitution effect compared with cereals. This allows energy intakes to be increased when feed intake is already maximised, reducing negative energy balance during early lactation."

The supplement tested was Intermols Regumaize 44. &#42