RUMINANT livestock farmers can now bolster their use of cost effective, home-grown cereals in cow diets thanks to the development of a growing range of versatile 'alkalising' ration ingredients, from FiveF Alka Limited.

According to the company, an average 100-cow dairy herd could make an extra £1200 per month by replacing 3-5kg of proprietary blend with cereals, without the risk of acidosis.

Company director and nutritionist Malcolm Graham said that studies have shown that with the right ration presentation - such as has been developed with Alkagrain's, new Alkanuts or AlkabupHa, which when added to a TMR rapidly releases ammonia to neutralise excess acid in the diet - cereals can actually now make up 70% of dairy cow concentrates and 94% of beef cattle concentrates.

As a result, he said that the company was receiving a surge of interest from dairy and intensive beef producers looking to feed more of their own cereals.

"With cereal and protein prices continuing to diverge, more and more producers are looking to feed more of what they can grow on their own farm. The alkaline systems we have developed now allow milk producers to feed up to 8kg of wheat to high performing dairy cows, leaving plenty of scope for typical mixed farms to use more of their high value cereal, rather than selling it whilst current ex-farm market prices are depressed.

"Similarly given current cereal prices any livestock farmer can create a very high energy 16% protein Alkagrain for around £150 per tonne without specialist storage or equipment. Alkagrain can be made continuously through the winter as required so also improving cash flow," said Mr Graham.

The company can offer a suite of different ration alkalising solutions - all of which will help kickstart a virtuous chain of events that will improve cow performance and health.

"We can ensure excess acids in the diet are quickly turned into ammonium salts, which are then metabolised as an highly effective rumen degradable energy and protein source. This improves rumen function, as well as helping to reduce the requirement for high protein feed ingredients like soya and rape meal," Mr Graham concluded.