One: Objective Efficient Nitrogen (N)

Protein efficiency lies at the heart of current livestock production systems. The cost of protein and the dependence of livestock farms on nitrogenous raw materials are such that it is absolutely essential that the input made is used in full.

Providing the ruminal flora with better nutrition to improve protein efficiency

When we speak of protein efficiency, two ideas spring to mind:

  • Protein autonomy. This idea, which is referred to increasingly frequently in the press, basically aims to reduce dependence by cultivating nitrogen-rich crops. But the majority of systems are unable to be 100% autonomous and other forms of leverage exist. Amino acids and finding the ideal protein. We examine here the intestinal part of the nitrogen or by-pass. For a number of years, rumen-protected methionine has been put to the fore. The aim of amino acids is to improve protein efficiency, either by boosting technical performance (milk and protein rating) with an added supplement, or by limiting the amount of nitrogen input with a specific formulation.
  • But another idea is absolutely essential: providing the ruminal flora with better nutrition. The energy needed to produce milk and get satisfactory yields is provided to a large extent by the rumen. In order for the ruminal flora to reproduce correctly and produce sufficient energy, the micro-organisms need, among other things, nitrogen. An input of high-quality degradable nitrogen must therefore be made in sufficient quantity.

What is high-quality ruminal nitrogen?

Depending on region and dietary pattern, the energy input will differ in its quantity and nature. For example, in a winter feed system, the proportion of corn silage in the feed ration may vary considerably. The same is true of the supplementary energy input (small grain, corn grain, pulp, fats, etc.). As a result, the quantity of carbohydrates (starch, sugar, etc.) to be broken down and the fermentation speed of these carbohydrates will differ. Therefore, it will be necessary to adjust the protein input according to the energy input.

To do this, CCPA has singled out four levels of ruminal nitrogen input:

  • the ruminal protein which corresponds to all of the protein broken down in the rumen,
  • the non-protein nitrogen which is broken down practically instantaneously,
  • the rapid protein which is broken down rapidly in the rumen,
  • the slow protein which is broken down slowly in the rumen.

The aim is to encourage synergy between nitrogen input and energy in such a way that the micro-organisms enjoy optimal development.

From theory to practice

In order to make this approach a reality, CCPA ran a series of trials in the winter of 2016-2017. The results are surprising with significant variations in performance in spite of minor variations in nitrogen degradation kinetics.

For example, in one of the trials using a feed ration with a moderate input of rapidly fermentescible energy, an adjustment of the nitrogen kinetics retaining the same PDI levels led to an increase of 1.3 kg of energy-corrected milk.

Other trials are also under way to obtain full control over the needs of livestock and to be more efficient in the future.


Cedric FAURE, Ruminant specialist of CCPA Group

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