Jenkins on DCAD balance & milk fat
T.C. (Tom) Jenkins, Emeritus Professor at Clemson University, shared insights on managing dairy ration dietary cation-anion difference (DCAD) for optimal dairy performance in an online forum organized by D&D earlier this year.
Dr. Jenkins pointed out that good DCAD management required balancing dietary potassium (K), which was especially important in early lactation and under potential heat stress conditions.
“Cows in early lactation can be in negative K balance,” Jenkins said. “All lactating cows are more vulnerable in hot weather when K losses can be extreme.”
Supplementing the diet with potassium carbonate (K2CO3 sesquihydrate) can be cost-effective in increasing milk fat production in cows with “normal” fat test. Also, it can result in greater “persistency” of milk production throughout lactation.
Research has shown that additional dietary K-carb in early lactation can increase DM intake, milk fat percentage and yield, energy-corrected milk, and milk production efficiency per unit of DM intake without impacting magnesium in blood or feces.
Dr. Jenkins also covered the role of K-carb in the rumen during biohydrogenation conversion of fatty acids and explained the advantages of K-carb over other rumen buffer additives, especially in blood-buffering and control of heat stress effects.
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