Protein in ruminant diets


Wednesday September 25, 2013



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Protein is a vital nutrient for growth, production, reproduction and production of other important organic compounds such as hormones and enzymes. Protein is present in most common livestock feeds such as pasture silage, hay, cereal grain, legumes and protein meals. Ruminant production, especially dairy cattle, relies heavily on pasture as the major source of protein to drive milk production. 

Ruminant livestock require approximately 14-22% crude protein in their diet depending on age, level of production and other husbandry factors. Grazing system relying on high quality pasture can bring excessive levels of protein (>24%) in the animal’s diet creating a constraint to production maximisation and a range of metabolic challenges. Ruminant has to remove excessive protein from their body into faces and urine. This removal process requires energy, which otherwise could have used to produce meat, wool and milk.  

Proteins of natural origin (plant & animal) are made of 21 amino acids in a huge array of combinations and are not always the same.  The animal has protein requirement, and within the animal individual organs and tissues have unique nutrient requirements. Mammary tissues have higher glucose requirements to produce lactose to drive milk volume; specific amino acids such as Methionine and Lysine in cow’s diet can positively alter milk solid composition or the lack of it can constrain milk production and cow’s potential dry matter intake especially in early stage of lactation.

For more information about managing protein speak to your CopRice nutritionist on 1800 267 742