Rumen Degradable Protein for Dairy: Great Ingredients Have It, Too!
The dairy nutrition industry is obsessed with rumen by-pass protein ingredients, and to be fair, there are good reasons for this obsession. We, too, are interested in this concept, as our high-shear dry extruders create highly-digestibly rumen by-pass protein within ingredients from our machines. In short, our ingredients provide ample, quality protein that feeds the cow and supports the production of more milk and components, like milk fat and protein.
The consequence of providing more digestible protein for the cow is that less protein hangs around in the rumen – more of it leaves and feeds the animal. However, dairy cows, like all ruminants, contain a large microbial fermentation vat called the rumen, and everything the cow consumes is altered by the rumen microbes, such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoa (and even other microbial life). While this is the goal, after all, to better feed the cow and enhance milk productivity, the rumen microbes are critically important for the overall health and well-being of the cow. For example, the rumen is the major site of the degradation of plant fibers, which are major components of dairy diets.
So, the opposite of rumen by-pass protein is rumen degradable protein, and it is very important because it feeds the rumen microbes. So, what happens when an ingredient with very low, or overheated, rumen degradable protein is fed? As a clear example, a study carefully demonstrated that, as other important nutrient levels were maintained at constant levels, lactating dairy cows fed lower levels of rumen degradable protein exhibited corresponding declines in milk production and components.
So, what to do? Focusing on ingredients from a quality-minded process, like high-shear dry extrusion and ExPress® soy meal, will allow for the best of both worlds in a dairy formulation. The ExPress® process creates rumen by-pass protein, as already mentioned, but it also preserves and improves all proteins, including rumen degradable protein and by-pass protein. It may be the only major ingredient for proteins that you need in your dairy formulations.