Research confirms the need for holistic approach to dairy nutrition

A series of Crystalyx-funded trials, carried out at a number of renowned international research centres, has confirmed the absolute priority for dairy farmers to meet the nutritional needs of their animals in a holistic sense.

This principle holds from conception of a heifer calf, through to the end of what should be her long and productive ‘working life’.

This work has also confirmed that such an approach will deliver for dairy farming businesses, across all measurable metrics of sustainability – production related and environmental.

Caltech technical director Dr. Cliff Lister spoke at a recent webinar. He said:

The research clearly shows that if the growth of heifers is stalled at any stage in their development, up to the first 100 days post-calving, the end result will be a sustained and cumulative impact on their ability to produce milk on a sustainable basis over a long number of lactations.

“Beyond this, the work has highlighted the need to meet the specific nutritional needs of the transition cow and those animals during the first 100 days of their new lactation,” he added.

Dairy trials by Crystalyx

The trials were undertaken to verify the benefits that a range of bespoke nutritional solutions, specifically developed by Crystalyx, can offer dairy farmers on a consistent basis.

The new products will be officially launched at the upcoming UK Dairy Day, taking place in Telford on Wednesday, September 15.

Lister continued: “It has been long accepted that there are key pinch points in the growth of dairy heifers. The same principle holds when it comes to the successful management of cows pre-calving, and for the first 100 days of their lactation.

Mistakes made at these junctures will impair the growth of heifers or, in the case of cows in milk, will take an entire lactation to rectify.”

The research commissioned by Caltech was undertaken at a number of UK centres, including Aberystwyth, plus the University of Parma in Italy and the University of Agriculture in Krakow, Poland.

“Trial work was also carried out in New Zealand and Germany,” Cliff Lister confirmed.

By taking this approach, we have been able to build up an extremely comprehensive body of research and trial results.

“These confirm that it is possible to use bespoke nutritional programmes in order to secure significantly improved levels of performance at all stages of a dairy animal’s life.”

Environmental findings

Two of the most significant findings that jump out from the results of the Caltech research programme relate to the significant reductions that can be achieved in the levels of greenhouse gases (GHG) produced by growing heifers, and the impact that dry cow management has on subsequent fertility levels.

A grazing trial, carried out in Germany, confirmed a conception rate of 92% with heifers on the bespoke Crystalyx supplementation regime. The equivalent figure generated courtesy of a comparable trial carried out in New Zealand was 100%.

Lister explained: “Again, bespoke nutritional programmes will drive this change. The new Crystalyx dairy range has been specifically developed to meet this need.

The products have been independently verified as new solutions in allowing dairy farmers throughout the UK and Ireland to develop their businesses on a wholly sustainable basis.

“Caltech/Crystalyx has invested approximately €290,000 in researching a number of the new dairy products. This work has allowed us to identify their mode of operation at a metabolic level,” he concluded.