Ruminant efficiency

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Ruminant efficiency

The benefit of rumination

The "pre-connection" of the fermentation organs in the digestive tract enables cattle and other ruminants, such as sheep and goats, to utilise the crude fibre fraction of plant biomass with the help of their rumen bacteria. 

For monogastric animals, this group of nutrients is hardly digestible and therefore cannot be used to meet demand. Milk-producing animals are therefore an essential link in circular economies, as around 80 % of plant biomass consists of crude fibre. Ruminants refine this into highly digestible protein for human nutrition.

The challenge of methane emissions

Methane (CH4) is produced as a side-effect of the high bacterial activity in the rumen and released into the ambient air during rumination. Methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) in terms of climate effect, however much more short-lived (CO2 remains in the atmosphere for 800-1000 years, CH4 less than 13 years). Recently, the contribution of agriculture was 41% of anthropogenic CH4 emissions1, with a large share due to enteric fermentation2. CH4 should therefore be considered as the most dominant climate gas within agriculture. Feeding strategies geared towards this currently focus on efficiency per unit of food produced.

The comparison of climate gas emissions and their effect on each other is made using the conversion unit "CO2 equivalent". On a global average, the production of one litre of milk releases methane in the order of about 2.4 kg CO2 equivalent. The wide range between 1.1 kg in countries with highly specialised dairy husbandry and 7.5 kg in regions of extensive husbandry under adverse conditions results from the interaction of breeding, husbandry and feeding in view of local resource availability. The use of mixed rations has been shown to reduce methane emissions compared to pure extensive grazing.3

Research on feed-related reduction of CH4 from enteric fermentation has increased exponentially over the last two decades, with various strategies being investigated: Intensification of production, feed optimisation (including processing of concentrates and fats, targeted supplementation of functional nutrients, and forage production and pasture management), rumen manipulation via feed additives (botanicals and others). For extensive production systems without feed supplementation, there are currently few options to reduce CH4 emissions.4

The solution to feed efficiency

Continued innovation is needed to develop and expand further technologies that address the wide differences in ruminant production systems worldwide. Intensification of livestock production through improved feeding and management is considered the most immediate and universal means of reducing CHemission intensity (per kg of product). The use of high quality lipids is an applicable and affordable CH4 mitigation strategy. Botanicals (algae extracts, essential oils, tannins, saponins, polyphenols) show promising results, whereby their varying reproducibility points to a need for further research. 

  • The Spicemaster range by Kaesler Nutrition comprises intelligent combinations of vegetable polyphenols to reduce the metabolic load in high-yielding dairy cows. The green tea and curcuma extracts in Spicemaster CP 500 reduce ER stress and prevent associated inflammation processes, which has a positive effect on milk yield. 
  • Kaesler Nutrition’s L-carnitine range (Carneon) improves the energy supply of dairy cows during the first third of lactation, reducing the risk of ketosis. Supplementation with L-carnitine has also shown to improve fertility. 

Amino acids

  • Supplementing dairy cows with Loprotin by Kaesler Nutrition, a zinc-methionine complex, contributes to increased milk yield and higher milk protein content. Due to the organically bound zinc content, it also has positive effects on fertility, claw quality and milk cell content. 

Needs-based mixed rations (premixes)

  • Cuxavit is Kaesler’s complete range of single vitamins, including β-carotene, and Cuxavit Mix, tailor-made premixtures for every area of application.
Our products for ruminant efficiency
  • Amino Acids

    Amino acids are vital for all living beings to build proteins. Amino acids and proteins are the building blocks of life.

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  • Botanicals

    Using botanicals in animal feed can have a positive effect on digestion and maintain general health and well-being.

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  • Carnitine

    L-Carnitine supports energy metabolism and helps the body turn fat into energy .

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  • Vitamins for feed

    Vitamins are essential to maintain the normal metabolic processes of animals to ensure health and performance and must be supplied with the feed.

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1Clark, H. (2022). IPCC AR6 Working Group III report: Overview of agricultural sector emissions. In: 2 nd one-day symposium of the Animal Task Force & the EAAP Commission on Livestock Farming Systems.

2Thompson, L., Rowntree, J., Windisch, W., Waters, S. M., Shalloo, L., & Manzano, P. (2023). Ecosystem management using livestock: embracing diversity and respecting ecological principles. Animal Frontiers, 13(2), 28-34.

3 FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization). 2010. Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the Dairy Sector: A Life Cycle Assessment. Rome, Italy

4 Beauchemin, K. A., Ungerfeld, E. M., Abdalla, A. L., Alvarez, C., Arndt, C., Becquet, P., ... & Kebreab, E. (2022). Invited review: Current enteric methane mitigation options. Journal of Dairy Science.


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