Beyond the basic feed ingredients, dairy rations often contain some additives that can boost milk production, bolster animal health, improve feed efficiency, and more. These additives cost money, of course, so the decision to use them — or not use them — is not always an easy one to make.

Feed additives are defined as feed ingredients that function in a non-nutrient role. During the June Hoard’s Dairyman webinar, Mike Hutjens added to that definition and said that these are ingredients added to the diet in small amounts, and some of them could have a nutritional role.

In the updated Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle: Eighth Revised Edition, the feed additives chapter highlights five categories:

  • Ionophores
  • Yeast and direct fed microbials
  • Silage inoculants
  • Enzymes
  • Essential oils

Hutjens, a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois, broadened that list and sorted additives into benefits they can provide, from energy balance to immune function and foot health to lower methane production. He said farmers must determine what is needed for their own situation. While some dairy producers may have enough knowledge in dairy cattle nutrition to make this decision, Hutjens encouraged involving a dairy nutritionist if possible.

When considering a feed additive, Hutjens said to ask for published research results. Continue monitoring for new research results as well, as this is an area that keeps expanding. Hutjens also cautioned against removing feed additives as a way to save money, as that can be a big mistake when the benefits outweigh the cost.

“Feed additives can be effective and economical additions to balanced rations,” Hutjens summarized.

To learn more, watch the webinar, “An update on feed additives.” This webinar was sponsored by Huvepharma.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2024
July 8, 2024
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