DAIRY farmers have been advised that switching protein sources to British wheat distillers could save a 300-cow herd more than £830 per month.

Bethany May, ruminant nutritionist at Trident Feeds, said: “Protein plays a critical role in driving milk yields. However, it’s often one of the more expensive elements in the ration.

“This cost is currently being compounded as global protein sources such as sunflower meal have reduced in availability, hi-pro soya prices are volatile and uncertain, and rapeseed meal remains expensive due to seasonal reductions in supply.

“For these reasons, producers should consider British wheat distillers dried grain with solubles (WDDGS), a UK-grown high-protein alternative.”

Miss May said that WDDGS, produced for Trident at the Vivergo plant in Hull, is a high-quality protein feed with a good level of by-pass protein, and is better value compared to some other mid-protein options.

“Farm delivered over the next few months, WDDGS is looking about £20/tonne cheaper than rapeseed meal,” said Miss May.

“Another advantage of feeding WDDGS is that it provides more metabolisable protein (MP) per kg of dry matter (DM), at a cheaper price per gram of MP than rapeseed meal and sunflower meal, ultimately giving you more MP for your money.”

MP comprises of rumen-degraded protein being converted into microbial protein, and any rumen by-pass protein, which can then both be utilised by the cow.

Miss May said: “For dairy rations, MP intake is a key driver of milk yield, so it’s important to look at the quantities provided by a particular feed, as well as the overall levels of crude protein (CP). Ultimately, if you can get more protein from a good value feed source, the ration will be more cost-effective.

“Prices per kg of CP from WDDGS are significantly cheaper compared to CP from competitor feeds. For example, CP from WDDGS is around nine per cent cheaper than the protein from rapeseed meal and 20 per cent cheaper than the equivalent amount from sunflower meal.

“These individual cost savings help reduce the overall ration cost, meaning it’s cheaper to completely replace rapeseed meal with WDDGS, which also provides 1.8 MJ/kg DM more energy than rapeseed meal.

“If replacing 3kg in a ration, this provides enough extra energy for one litre of milk, which (at 28ppl) equates to a potential £93.50/tonne of additional value.”

Along with the cost savings that can be made and performance benefits to the herd, WDDGS provides further advantages.

“The cheaper cost to WDDGS does not mean that quality is compromised, with both nutritional and non-nutritional components outweighing that of alternatives, so it should definitely be a consideration for dairy rations.”