Boosting profit through feed efficiency

Efficient dairy cows are dependent on digesting and absorbing as much nutrition as they can with every bite of feed they consume.

Forages and silages are the foundation of a dairy cow’s diet and are the most difficult portion of the diet to digest due to fibre content.

In order to increase farm profits farmers need to be as efficient as possible. Reducing feed costs through increased feed efficiency is one method of improving the bottom line.

Enzymes can increase feed efficiency and nutrient utilisation and can be an extremely simple way of getting the most out of an animal’s diet.

Animal’s already have access to a host of enzymes which are produced naturally by microbes in the digestive tract.

However, sometimes these enzymes pass through the digestive tract too quickly and are not used by the animal. Other issues like acidosis can also result in enzymes being unavailable.

Adding enzymes to the animal’s diet can help the microbial population of the rumen and perform some of the digestion for the microbes. This saves energy which can then be used for maintenance and production.

However, careful consideration is needed before adding enzymes. The enzymes added must be specific to the diet being fed to the animal.


Agri-King’s feed additive Ru-Max can increase profitability through better fibre and starch utilisation. The pre-mixture can be used on forage and silage-based feeds.

When added to forage and silage-based feeds, Ru-Max improves fibre digestion by breaking down bonds in the fibre molecules of the plant cell wall.

This allows easier access to sugars contained within fibre and the nutrients within plant cells for use by the rumen micro-organisms and the dairy cow.

Increased nutrient utilisation from forage and silages treated with Ru-Max improves feed efficiency.

Agri-King’s Dr. David Jones, who is based in the US, explained: “Forages and other feed ingredients treated with an enzyme-containing product are the foundation for efficiency in ruminant animals.”

He added that a good forage treatment programme will not only improve forage preservation, but will also provide enzymes – cellulases, amylases, xylanases and pectinases.

These enzymes start a pre-digestion of fibres, starches and sugars in forages and this makes them more digestible for animals.

“The release of sugars from both structural and non-structural carbohydrates stimulates rapid microbial growth, which aids in microbial colonization of plant material,” he outlined.

Treating feed directly with enzymes should be considered the first step toward feed efficiency with enzyme technology.

However, it is important to note that adding enzymes to ruminant diets will increase the rate of digestion but not necessarily the extent of digestion.

“This means the effect of enzymes is not due to making substrates digestible if they would not be digested in the rumen without the use of enzymes.

“Instead, enzymes capture more value from components of feedstuffs already digestible by allowing quicker release of the nutrients. In this way, more potentially digestible substrates from feed can be obtained for use by livestock,” he added.

Increases in yield from enzyme use

The graphs below show the effects of Ru-Max on milk yield and milk solids in different herds. In each case milk yield increased when Ru-Max was added.

This was also the case with milk fat and protein content. These components increased when Ru-Max was added in each herd.

Beef animals

Looking at Agri-King’s Maximiser product which is added to forage for beef animals it is clear to say that adding enzymes to these forages helped to increase feed efficiency.

As can be seen in the chart below feed intake was lower, but live weight gain was higher where Maximiser was added and starch breakdown was higher where Maximiser was added.

Additional information

Additional information is available on the Agri-King website, or by contacting the office in the Republic of Ireland on: 01-6575628; or the UK on: 01243-558884.

You can also e-mail: [email protected]; or, alternatively: [email protected].

In addition, you can also visit the Agri-King website at:

Find your local Agri-King area manager in the list below:
  • Matt Tungate: 07554-401457 – Donegal and Derry;
  • Philip Lynch: 07760-999278 – Antrim;
  • Robert Kinnear: – 07881-315059 – Fermanagh and Tyrone;
  • Alan Lockhart: – 07813-857618 – Armagh and Down;
  • Séamus Brady: 086-0432700 – Cavan and Monaghan;
  • Domhnall Waldron: 087-2545035 – Mayo and Galway;
  • Nicholas Leen: 087-9228000 – Kerry and Clare;
  • Michael O’Neill: 087-2436612 – Limerick, South Tipperary and West Cork;
  • Amy Lynott: 087-4174287 – East Cork and Waterford;
  • Stephen Hughes: 086-7013463 – Wexford and Wicklow;
  • Gerard Dunne: 086-8529955 – Kilkenny, Carlow and North Tipperary;
  • Kevin McWey: 086-7916250 – Laois, Offaly and Kildare;
  • Alan Walker: 087-9877742 – Roscommon, Westmeath, Meath, and Louth;
  • Terry Sloane: 087-8106184 – all other areas.