Not All Fats Are Created Equal – Andrew Jones

With current feed (cereal) prices, as well as the increase in solid based milk contracts you may already be, or considering, using a fat in your cow’s diet, but are you using the right fat?

They can also play an important role in achieving the correct energy density (M/D) of your diet particularly during this current heat with reduced appetites.

Most people think to use either a calcium soap-based product or a straight C16 product but are these the right products to use?

A recent study observed, “Just as we recognise that not all protein sources are the same, it is important to remember that not all fatty acids or fatty acid supplements are the same.”

In fact, there are distinct differences among fatty acid digestion, metabolism and impacts on milk production, reproduction and health.

• C16:0 (palmitic)  – Production (milk & butterfat [but only has a 40% influence on butterfat])
• C18:0 (stearic)  – Dry matter intake & milk production
• C18:1 (oleic)  – Replenish body reserves
• C18:2 (linoleic)  – Immune function, reproductive performance (embryo development) – Essential Fatty Acid
• C18:3 (linolenic) – Elongated to C20:5 (EPA) & C22:6 (DHA), immune function, reproductive             performance (embryo survival) – Essential Fatty Acid

An Essential Fatty Acid is like an Essential Amino Acid, it is one that must be supplied to the animal as it cannot produce it themselves.

A series of trial has shown;

• C16:0 – increase energy-corrected milk (ECM) but did not affect DMI in both fresh and peak periods
• C16:0 – supplementation induced greater bodyweight (BW) loss and increased markers of lipolysis when fed in the fresh period
• C18:0 – increased DMI but had no effect on yields of milk or milk components
• C18:1 – increased supplementation of C18:1 increased ECM & positive BW change

Therefore, supplementation of the right combination of these products may help you better obtain the results you desire for your herd.

To see if you are effectively using C16 supplementation in your herd, contact your local FCG office or Andrew at to provide a Milk Fatty Acid Profile report.

Posted in Dairy & Forage, Sherborne.