Animal Health Vision (AHV) has launched a new feed additive, RuFO, designed specifically to improve rumen function in dairy cows. It has been formulated purposely for inclusion in Total Mixed Ration (TMR) diets.

Its development recognises the very high inclusion rates of forage in the diets fed to dairy cows throughout the year in Ireland.

AHV managing director for the UK and Ireland, Adam Robinson, explained the role that RuFO can play in delivering higher levels of production efficiency.

“RuFO has been designed specifically to promote an environment within the rumen which promotes growth and activity of those microbial populations that ultimately produce optimal levels of health and productivity,” he said.

“This is achieved by the improved utilisation of feed, which makes energy and protein more available to the animal.

“As a consequence, the use of RuFO will help deliver improved production, fertility and overall health outcomes,” concluded Adam.

AHV nutritionist, Michael McGonigle, discusses RuFO further, he said: “RuFO has been extensively trialled on dairy farms throughout Ireland.

“Participating farmers have consistently confirmed the attainment of improved lactation-related performance, more efficient use of feed, better fertility and improved health status across their herds.”

RuFO Roscommon

Paddy Gunn is farm manager on the dairy unit owned by Paddy Harte at Kilglas, Rooskey, Co. Roscommon.

The farm is home to 62 pedigree-Holstein cows and two milking robots.

Discussing his farm, Paddy said: “The unit was established three years ago with in-calf heifers bought in at that time.

“The animals were selected on the basis of their ability to produce high levels of milk solids.

“The herd is split into autumn and spring-calving groups. Between the two groups on an average of 186-days in-milk, the cows are producing approximately 32.5L of milk/day. Some of the cows are pushing towards 10,000L from 2.7t of meal.”

Talking about his herd’s nutrition, Paddy mentioned: “We have been using RuFO in the herd’s TMR diet since October last year.

“Fresh TMR is placed in front of the cows each afternoon, with RuFO added at 100g/cow/day.”

Improved condition

Paddy noticed an improvement in cow condition quite soon after RuFO was included in the herd’s diet.

“Members of the AHV team have regularly sieved the cow’s dung over the past few months,” he said.

“This work is confirming that a considerably higher proportion of the diet is being digested and utilised with the addition of RuFO.”   

AHV native

Michael McGonigle visited the Harte farm recently and stated: “Results with RuFO have been very encouraging.

“Many of the farmers involved in the trial work have been able to reduce the crude protein content of their overall dairy ration by 5% while feeding RuFO to their lactating cows, without any detriment on performance.

“As it has been fully verified on the Harte farm, body condition improved, animals came into full milk quickly and milk persistency improved once they had passed the peak, which led to a more gradual drop in mid to late lactation,” concluded Michael.

Paddy added: “As utilisation of feed improved, fertility levels also improved.

“All the farmers on RuFO are confirming that cows are showing very strong heats and improved conception rates to their first service.

“But more than that, the cows look really well while on the RuFO diet. Feet-related problems became less of an issue as did the other health-related problems that can crop up,” concluded Paddy.

Improved fertility

Another of the RuFO trial farmers is Richard Newell, who farms near Katesbridge in Co. Down, who was equally impressed with the new additive.

Commenting on Richard’s herd’s performance, Michael said: “For us, the big driver behind the new product was the significant improvement in fertility that it delivered across the herd.

“The calving interval of the cow group on the RuFO diet fell by 21 days and the average number of straws used fell to just 1.9.

“This development alone represented a tremendous saving for the business.”

Improved feed quality

Discussing RuFO’s influence on feed quality, Michael said: “RuFO also acts to reduce heating in the TMR diet. All the farmers reported a consistent and significant reduction in heating levels within the rations fed to their cows.

“This is of huge benefit to palatability and, crucially, feed quality. The heating process causes the degradation of nutrients, so when we prevent heating when using RuFO, we maintain the nutrient value of the TMR diet.

“Another beneficial impact of securing optimal rumen health is the ability of cows to better deal with the performance-related problems that can be caused by mycotoxins,” said Michael.

“Recent surveys have confirmed that mycotoxins are becoming more prevalent in the silages fed to dairy cows throughout Ireland.

“RuFO’s success in maintaining feed quality, promoting efficient digestion, and supporting overall cow health and performance has been evident, alongside its hugely worthwhile return on investment,” concluded Michael.

For further information, click here, or contact Michael McGonigle on; 087 649 7366.