Vital
Alfa

Optimising Rumen function

A pelleted Fodder for protein supplementation

Fodder makes up the bulk of a cow’s diet. Fodder is the key to rumen function and the rumen is critical in providing the nutrients cows need for development and production. We need to ensure a consistent diet of good quality fodder before we add anything else to the cow’s diet in order to establish and maintain a large microbial population. This in turn will function better and be better able to digest lower quality fodder and process the supplemental compound feed more effectively. The other elements (supplemental compound feed, minerals, vitamins, bypass fats etc) of this nutritional pyramid can only provide up about 20-30% of the cow’s total diet. What we must do is focus on improving the performance of the organ that is able to supply 80% of the energy needs and 60-70% of the protein requirements when functioning properly.

The rumen serves a critical role by providing an environment for microbes to break down cellulose and hemicellulose and supply a major portion of the energy and protein requirements of the cow. The rumen provides a home for the microbes to live in and proliferate. As the microbes grow and reproduce and their population increases, they release more energy and protein. A healthier microbe population is also better able to digest other parts of the diet being fed to the cow, increasing feed efficiency. If you can feed the rumen, you can feed the cow. One major component of ensuring rumen function is providing a consistent and stable diet of fodder. By using Vital pelleted fodders (Vital Alfa and Vital Beeta) in this way a significant portion of the diet can be stabilised as our quality and consistency will not change – the products are plant material, harvested for their quality at the right stage to ensure consistency. They are not mixtures made up to meet particular protein or energy levels but raw plant material from single-source plant species.

Fodder quality is crucial to creating the right environment in the rumen. The microbes in the rumen sustain themselves by breaking down the cellulose and hemicellulose found in fodder. Cellulose is found primarily in younger plants which also contain a lot more nutrients. Older plants which have seeded have much higher levels of lignin which microbes cannot break down and process. Pelleted fodder such as Vital Alfa contain high levels of digestible cellulose and other nutrients that are perfect for rumen fermentation and supporting the microbial population. Fed in conjunction with longer fibre from hay, silage or napier to encourage chewing the cud Vital Alfa creates optimum conditions for the rumen to function correctly. Vital Alfa can therefore become the core of a quality fodder ration that improves rumen function. This will then provide the cow with the bulk of its protein and carbohydrate requirements, improving energy levels and productivity while allowing the cow to make the most of any additional feed.

Vital Alfa is a highly nutritious quality leguminous forage made from well cultivated, weed and disease-free lucerne grown in fertile soils. It is a legume grown and cut when it is very leafy and approaching flowering because this the stage at which it contains very high levels of nutrients and is very digestible. Once dried, it is baled using the best technology to ensure a minimum loss in quality and maximum preservation of leaves which carries most of the nutrients. The crop is further processed by pelleting resulting in an easy to handle product with moisture of 11%. This ensures a maximum preservation of quality through preservation of nutrients and also protection from contamination by poisons from moulds - Vital Alfa contains less than 10 ppb aflatoxin. Vital Alfa is high in protein content and is highly digestible with a very high percentage of by-pass protein which is required for making milk. Vital Alfa can be fed to adult lactating cows at between 2-4 kg per head per day and can be fed in conjunction with Vital Beeta to balance protein and energy in the rumen. In heifers it can be fed up to 20% of the total ration and Vital Alfa also is an excellent fodder to be used in conjunction with a quality calf starter for calves who will thrive from the protein and addition of quality forage in their developing rumens. In Dry cows it should be fed with caution due to its higher calcium levels but can be fed up to 2.5 kg per day. Vital Alfa may be fed at any stage in conjunction with Vital Beeta. Animals fed a pelleted or grain-based ration require a minimum of 20% of their total intake in the form of a good quality hay. In changing any feeding regime introduce new diets slowly to build up to recommended intakes over a 14 day period. Introduce gradually and do not let pellet supply run out.

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