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Why should we feed liquid supplements with today’s milk prices?

March 11, 2016

Kai Yuan, Ph.D. – QLF Dairy Technical Services Manager
Stephen M. Emanuele Ph.D. PAS – QLF Senior Scientist-Technical Advisor

Key point: sugar supplementation increases value of milk components

Many dairy producers have already experienced the pain of low milk prices, but there is still hope on
the horizon. The good news is our milk fat price is still strong, and cows with good milk components can
certainly help producers generate more profits.

Numerous studies have shown that dietary liquid sugar supplementation is a feasible way to help increase
milk component yields. A meta-analysis by independent scientists was performed on a database of 24
published scientific research trials. The study found that dietary sugar supplementation increased milk fat
and protein yields, and the opti mal response was observed when total dietary sugar is between 6.75 to 8%
of DMI. Specifically, cows producing more than 74 pounds of milk had 0.18 pounds increase of milk fat, 0.2
pounds increase of milk protein, and 4.7 pounds increase of 3.5% FCM.

In January 2016, the advanced component prices are $3.03/lb. and $1.25/lb. for milk fat and protein,
respectively. Below is an illustration of how sugar supplements may increase the value of milk components,
based on the above meta-analysis results.

  • Feeding sugar supplements to cows producing more than 74 pounds milk are expected to have
    $0.55 additional income for fat (0.18 lb. increase of milk fat x $3.03/lb. fat = $0.55) and $0.25
    additional income for protein (0.2 lb. increase of milk protein x $1.25/lb. fat = $0.25), which is a
    total of $0.80/cow/day added income ($0.55 + $0.25 = $0.80).
  • If we feed QLF product while replacing some other ingredients such as protein or fat sources,
    the additional cost for liquid supplements should be less than $0.10/cow, considering also the
    cost for increased DMI at $0.16 (1.32 lb. increase in DMI x $0.12/lb. DM = $0.16), which is a
    total cost of $0.26/cow/day ($0.10 + $0.16 = $0.26).
  • Therefore, by considering merely the increased value of milk complements, feeding sugar
    supplements in cows producing more than 74 pounds milk can help generate an additional net
    income of $0.54/cow/day ($0.80 – $0.26 = $0.54). The actual net return would be much higher
    because we have not considered the increased milk volume, improved cow health, enhanced
    feed conditioning, and reduced feed shrink in this calculation.

In short, dietary liquid sugar supplementation is a feasible way to help increase milk component yields and
values, especially in today’s tough milk market. Sugar supplements are expected to generate an additional
net income of 54 cents per cow per day for medium to high producing dairy cows

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