Protected extracts from plant and seaweed to secure & boost milk production

Recently, a new technology was introduced to modulate the rumen microflora and support milk production during the full production of dairy cows and maximize the production persistency beyond the production peak. Designed with a unique manufacturing process, this new technology is based on a special combination of key active ingredients.

Dr. Stephanie Ladirat
R&D Director
NUQO Feed Additives

Ruminants live in symbiosis with the microorganisms hosted in their rumen. In this relationship, the animal provides the nutrients and the proper environment for bugs, while the microorganisms provide the possibility to convert non digestible dietary compounds into nutrients. While this symbiosis enables ruminants to take advantage of ingredients with theoretical low values, nutritional research has further explored fermentation mechanisms to possibly maximize the efficiency and the outcome of the symbiosis between the ruminants and the microorganisms of the rumen, to improve the production of energy or protein, reduce the waste of nutrients and again improve feed efficiency.

The optimization of rumen fermentation should first be achieved through diet formulation and management practices. Nevertheless, when these strategies are implemented, additional benefits could be obtained by use of additives that can modulate rumen microbial fermentation. In recent decades, various technologies and ingredients have been used to improve the efficiency of energy and N utilization in the rumen but there is still room for news solutions that will allow the current level of production to be maintained without increasing costs.

Recently, a new technology was introduced to modulate the rumen microflora and support milk production during the full production of dairy cows and maximize the production persistency beyond the production peak.

This new technology relies on the exclusive combination of key active ingredients:
• One “phycogenic” or marine algae with high content in phloro-tannins
• Three “phytogenics’ or plant extracts with high levels of essential oils
• One source of urea for a slow release of nitrogen

Furthermore, this feed additive is designed with a unique manufacturing process:
• A first outer-layer containing both phytogenics and phycogenics for a higher stability in feed and an immediate activity in the rumen and,
• a second inner-layer made of protected urea for a slow and continuous release of nitrogen in the rumen, to support and maximize the production of protein

The exclusive composition of this technology combined to its unique manufacturing process allow this technology to be an all-in-one solution with each particle containing all active ingredients for homogeneous distribution in the feed and consistent efficiency.

All active ingredients are protected and delivered to the rumen to acts synergistically and modulate rumen functions to boost performance of dairy cows.

• The phytogenics & phycogenics, which are released first, will indirectly favor bacteria that optimize VFA production, and thus trigger an energy uplift
• The inner core containing protected urea acts as a micro bolus to release nitrogen progressively, which together with the energy uplift will favor the production of innate microbial protein in the rumen.
• In the meantime, phytogenics & phycogenics control the detrimental microflora, i.e. inhibit protozoa and bacteria that are responsible for proteolysis and deamination

With an uplift of energy, an increase of nitrogen available for the rumen microorganisms, and a reduction of amino acid degradation, the three steps above consequently work synergistically to increase the total protein flow to intestine and support milk production. Finally, phytogenics are also acting on digestibility since specific phytogenics can increase digestive secretion. This enhanced digestibility will lead to a better digestion and absorption of nutrients and further support the milk production of dairy cows.

Several in-vivo trials have demonstrated the impact of this new technology, either ‘on top’ to boost milk production and extend milk production after the peak, or by reformulating the share of proteins in the diet to optimize profit. The research has shown that animals benefit from this technology through a better support of their protein metabolism and through the modulation of the VFA profile production in the rumen. In all trials, the new technology, based on exclusive metabolites and technology, was shown to contribute to higher milk production, with no dilution of fat and protein and a better feed efficiency.

In a new trial, the technology was tested at a Belgium dairy farm in March 2021. Cows were originally fed with a ration based on raw materials (no feed additives) with a 1:1 corn:grass silage, and with a crude protein level between 14,54% to 14,75% depending on milk production. Two groups of cows were homogeneously split and either fed with standard diet (NC) or with this new technology (PC). At day 60, cows in the NC group started with a slightly higher milk rate vs cows in the PC group. After the peak of lactation (>d60), cows progressively produce less but cows in the PC group maintained a higher production rate per day than cows in the NC group. With a longer lactation period, the effects of the technology were step by step more visible: cows from the PC group produce 1.1 litre more than the NC group from 60 to 250 days, 1.4 litre more from 60 to 280 days and, finally, 1.9 litre more from 60 to 330 days! These results confirm outcomes from previous trials and the effect of the innovation to support milk production, and more specifically to increase the performance over the time and extend the production cycle of dairy cows.

Interestingly, the cows from the PC group, which had a higher milk production than cows from control diet, also maintained their fat% and protein%, indicating no dilution of the milk. These results confirm the effects of PC treatment on protein metabolism and energy in the rumen. As an example, the PC treatment showed an effect on VFA production, with an increase of the ratio of propionic:acetic acid, which represents a gain of energy for the cows. This highlights the effect of the new product on ruminal microflora, to alleviate the fermentation pathways and optimize rumen efficiency.

Considering its importance in cow production, it is not surprising that the rumen and its ecosystem have monopolized most nutritional research. Nevertheless, progress in research has unveiled new opportunities for animal nutrition, to further understand and possibly alleviate the metabolism of rumen, to improve feed efficiently and better take advantage of available diet compounds. While various molecules or ingredients have been tested and are commonly used to support the production of dairy cows, the technology presented in this article relies on a quite unique approach, with a synergistic effect of its components, thanks to a simultaneous release of nitrogen and an uplift of energy. This is the outcome of a transparent and exclusive formulation, in particular when it comes to phycogenics from algae, but also the outcome of the manufacturing process that enables the specific controlled release of ingredients in the rumen. This innovation is now available on the market and can be used as a tool to support and extend milk production, while other declinations will be developed in the future to address more specifically different life stages of animals.

About Dr. Stephanie Ladirat
Dr. Stephanie Ladirat is the technology director at NUQO. She obtained her MSc degree in Food Technology with a specialization in Food Ingredient and Functionality and her PhD degree in Food Chemistry from Wageningen University (The Netherlands). During her PhD thesis, she studied in depth the human gut microbiota composition and its modulation upon prebiotic supplementation and/or antibiotic treatments. From 2014 till 2020, she worked at Cargill Animal Nutrition, first as technology lead for gut health additives and, then, as swine portfolio manager. She provided global technical product support for a broad range of products (phytogenics, organic acids, short and medium chain fatty acids, probiotics) and trained technical and sales teams. She most recently managed R&D projects and developped innovative feed additive solutions to answer specific customer needs related to animal gut health and performance.