With high imported soya and rapeseed meal prices putting margins under pressure, dairy producers are being encouraged to consider alternative feeding strategies to reduce the cost of rations.

“Soyabean meal prices are typically sitting around at around £310-£320 and there’s little to suggest this is going to ease any time soon,” pointed out Alistair Jackson, the national sales manager at Trident Feeds.

He said there were several other ways to provide the quantity and quality of protein needed to support high milk yields, and producers should, therefore, be looking at British-sourced to costly imported proteins meals.

“One consideration is NovaPro, a new high energy rumen protected protein derived from 100% UK-grown rapeseed,” said Mr Jackson. “NovaPro delivers a similar quantity of bypass protein to soya, with a higher energy content than rapemeal extract.

“And, following the opening of a new multi-million-pound processing plant earlier this year, a consistent supply is available all-year-round.”

It can easily be incorporated into dairy rations and costs around £270/tonne. “In trials at Nottingham University, compared to rations containing hi-pro soya and rapeseed extract meal, results showed feeding NovaPro increased milk yield by1.7 litres/cow/day, along with increased feed intakes,” he added.

“Significantly reduced levels of urea in milk were also noted, indicating better protein utilisation which can lead to better fertility.”

Another consideration for producers is Spey Syrup, a high in protein and energy liquid. “When replaced like-for-like with Hipro Soya, Spey Syrup is comparative on price for protein while also providing a very cost-effective source of energy,” said Mr Jackson.

An additional benefit of the distillery liquid is that it also drives intakes and reduces diet sorting, therefore, improving diet efficiency and performance.

“Spey Syrup contains high levels of yeast fragments left over from the fermentation process, which delivers a beneficial effect on rumen acid production and microbial protein yield. Research has shown this can improve rumen health, feed conversion efficiency and overall milk production.

“With feed prices remaining high and milk prices dropping back, rethinking conventional dairy rations will pay,” Mr Jackson concluded.