Jan. 16 2023 08:00 AM

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Rising protein costs have producers searching for opportunities to secure predictable feed costs while also ensuring consistent milk and component production. The question you may ask: is this a situation where feeding a supplement that modifies rumen microbes or microflora makes sense? Tim Thompson has been working with dairy farmers for over 38 years. Tim answers his most often asked questions from producers about rumen undegradable protein (RUP).

What is RUP and why is it important?

RUP is also known as “bypass” protein. A cow’s rumen produces microbial protein necessary to meet her needs for amino acids, and leftover protein bypasses through to the intestine. A higher producing cow needs more metabolizable protein (or amino acids) to make her milk and components. This is where we supplement cows with more sources of protein that bypass the rumen or avoid degradation to meet these additional requirements.

How can I feed more RUP?

1. The most popular is feeding protein sources that don’t degrade in the rumen and other protected sources of amino acids. This has been proven over the years as a beneficial and profitable solution for meeting protein and amino acid needs of high producing cows. The downfall is that bypass proteins and amino acids tend to be more expensive than typical soybean meal or other forage proteins.

2. Another way is to use a rumen modifier that slows the effects of the rumen microflora and increases bypass or rumen undegraded protein from all feeds we are feeding. This is less expensive and can still meet a cow’s protein needs.

Is there a supplement that modifies rumen microbes or microflora you recommend?

My recommendation is AAlphaTek®, a supplement offered by Promote®. AAlphaTek offers an easy way to improve income over feed costs, is backed by research, and proven in the field. When added to the diet, AAlphaTek enhances existing degradable protein sources allowing a reduction of expensive RUP sources resulting in increased income over feed costs.

When does feeding a supplement that modifies RUP, like AAlphaTek, make sense?

A good indicator is MUN (or Milk Urea Nitrogen) levels. For example, it makes sense if you are running greater than 11 MUNs, or milk component levels are lower than desired. AAlphaTek makes sense as it won’t increase your cost over any other basic protein source you are feeding. Depending on your ration it may or may not meet the additional amino acid needs of the animal, but it can be a start. As a reference, AAlphaTek can supply the equivalent amount of bypass protein found in roughly 0.40 pounds of blood meal.

What if I am not feeding bypass protein sources, are there still benefits from AAlphaTek?

Yes, if group(s) of cows are producing MUNs levels higher than 11 there’s a good chance adding AAlphaTek to those rations could result in a higher energy corrected milk (ECM) response. In recent trials, response has been in the four-to-six-pound range of ECM, resulting in at least a 7:1 return on your investment.

For more information about AAlphaTek, visit feedpromote.com/dairy/aalphatek.

1 Proprietary data from internal trials as well as two field demonstrations.