Consider balancing your ration for amino acids

David Balbian, Area Dairy Specialist
Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

Last Modified: May 1, 2014

At our recent Dairy Day program Dr. Chuck Schwab presented convincing data showing that we should be balancing our dairy rations for amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. The first two limiting amino acids are lysine and methionine. 
Improvements in milk protein, milk pounds, milk butterfat, reproduction, and overall health are benefits that are seen. 
To successfully accomplish this task (balancing for amino acids) your nutritionist needs to be using a ration balancing program that calculates metabolizable protein. It's no longer sufficient to simply calculate crude protein, soluble protein, and degradable protein in the diet. 
Although some of the ingredients used to meet amino acid requirements can be expensive, we often find that ration crude protein levels can be reduced in the process. This frequently means a net cost/cow/day that is no more than prior to the change, occasionally less than prior to the change, and occasionally a little more expensive. This really depends on what your ration looks like prior to the change. 
The bottom line is what you should be considering here. The most important number is not what you are spending, but what is left over from milk income after you pay the feed bill.


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