• Why is it important to balance for amino acids?
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein that are critical to making milk. The two amino acids most commonly limiting in dairy cow diets are methionine and lysine. It is absolutely necessary that these amino acids make up a certain portion of dietary protein content because without them, dairy cows cannot produce milk to their full potential.
• What is methionine?
Methionine is one of ten amino acids essential for dairy cows to maintain optimum health and productivity. Since dairy cows cannot produce essential amino acids, they must get them from the diet. Methionine is an important part of enzyme systems that enable cows to get energy from feed. It’s also a component of the immune system and systems keeping body membranes healthy.
• What is Mepron?
Mepron comes in a concentrated time-released mini-pellet that features a solid core of DL-methionine. Compared to other methionine sources, Mepron® carries a high payload – 85% methionine – to deliver this crucial amino acid to the cow. Rumen stability ensures that the proper levels of methionine reach the small intestine. Mepron® is designed to release 15% to 20% of the methionine in the rumen.
• How does amino acid balancing with Mepron® help combat the effects of heat stress?
Heat stressed dairy cows eat less and use more energy to cool themselves. Reduced nutrient supply results in a decrease in milk production and milk protein content. To minimize losses during heat stress, feed protein must be efficiently utilized, which means the proper amino acid profile must be supplied so ration space is used effectively. Poor amino acid balance results in additional nitrogen excretion which can take a toll on cows and generate additional internal heat that must be dealt with. Microbial protein makes a strong contribution to the lysine supply. Thus, when rumen microbial production is reduced during heat stress, feed ingredients high in rumen undegraded lysine are needed to replace it. Many of the feed ingredients high in lysine (e.g. soy protein) are low in methionine, so a rumen undegradable methionine source like Mepron is crucial to bringing the amino acid supply into balance.
• How can Mepron reduce protein in my rations?
Through trial and error many rations have been developed that meet the requirements for amino acids. Frequently the first limiting amino acid is methionine. In practice this means that many other amino acids have been provided with the protein just to get methionine. There is a better way — add the methionine you need using Mepron. This will eliminate the surplus generated by adding protein to get methionine and generate more efficient conditions where two or three amino acids are co-limiting. Mepron provides proper methionine intake, reducing excess protein. Fewer unusable amino acids must be disposed of by the cow which lowers nitrogen levels excreted.
• Is Mepron easy to use?
Yes. Mepron mini-pellets are stable, dust-free and have excellent handling properties. Mepron mixes evenly with regular dairy ingredients including minerals and silages. While Mepron has been tested and shown to perform under a wide variety of practical feed manufacturing and handling situations, it should not be pelleted due to crushing of the protective coating.
• Will my feed costs go up?
Many dairy producers add protein to help support their herd’s health. However, expensive and undegradable protein can be costly. By substituting Mepron for excessive protein sources, you may be able to lower your feed costs up to $.05- $.10 per cow a day.
In addition, rising corn and soybean costs due to increases in bio-fuel production make it necessary to manage feed costs. Mepron can help you meet amino acid requirements and reduce the amount of protein required in your ration.
• How can Mepron increase my bottom line?
Obviously, herd health is your priority, but it doesn’t hurt for it to be profitable as well. Mepron can help increase your bottom line several ways:
- By reducing excess protein costs.
- By eliminating a nutrient deficiency, increasing milk and/or milk protein
- By generating ration space that can be used to improve health and production
- Overall, income over feed cost can increase by as much as 10%
• Is it possible to use too much Mepron in rations? Could this harm my herd?
No. Since Mepron is a nutrient, overfeeding will not harm your herd although overfeeding could create some extra costs to your wallet.
• Will Mepron affect the way the milk looks or tastes?
• How can Mepron help me reduce my dairy’s nitrogen output?
By balancing for amino acids with Mepron, you ensure feed protein will be efficiently used thereby reducing the amount of nitrogen excreted by the cow. A decrease of ration protein by 1% protein (e.g. from 18.5 to 17.5% of ration dry matter) has the annual potential to reduce nitrogen waste equivalent to 75 pounds of urea per cow. Large dairies can realize a significant reduction in environmental nitrogen load.
• Why should I be concerned with nitrogen output?
Without balancing for amino acids, dairy rations may contain too much protein, or incorrect proportions of amino acids, leading to inefficient use of feed protein. This inefficiency is not only a waste of your feed dollars, it increases the amount of nitrogen excreted by your cows. Because of growing environmental concerns, regulatory agencies are monitoring the level of nitrogen waste produced by dairy operations.
• Is nitrogen output being regulated?
In some states, it is. More and more states are pushing for regulations. It is important to be aware of the nitrogen your farm is producing and identify ways to reduce it.