Dairy Advice

PKE; Its Influence on Milk Composition

There has been a recent spotlight on palm kernel extract (PKE) and the influence it has on milk composition. This has resulted in the new Fat Evaluation Index (FEI). Essentially PKE contains certain types of fats that limits what that milk can be used for in terms of final product, such as butter. When feeding approximately 3kgDM of PKE or more, the fats within PKE can reduce the quality of the products that can be made from milk. Needless to say we are becoming more reliant on what feeds we can use to complement the grass, raise our milk production and milk fat % and as a result PKE has become more common as part of the diet offering. But how does this affect the FEI and what other options are available to promote milk production without increasing FEI levels?

Why do the nutritional specs vary for PKE?

PKE is a by-product of palm oil production. As a result, the nutritional specs vary depending on the region where it is sourced from and the time and stage in the harvesting season. At the start of the harvest season, the machinery is more efficient at extracting the palm oil. As a result, the PKE is lower in fat (and therefore lower in energy – MJME). Over the harvesting/extracting season the machinery begins to wear and the removal of oil becomes less efficient, resulting in higher fat and energy levels.

What is FEI and how is it influenced by PKE?

FEI (Fat Evaluation Index) gives an indication of the types of fats in the milk. Milk fat is made up of both long and short chain fatty acids. As the short chain fatty acids increase, the long chain fatty acids decrease, and vice versa. This is relevant as pasture contains long chain and PKE contains short chain. As the PKE within the diet increases, pasture intake decreases therefore increasing the FEI result.

What are some on farm options?

Feeding alternative sources of feed to fill the gap instead of PKE is an easy way to reduce the FEI. This is a great opportunity to not only fill a feed deficient, but also assess what else could be limiting in the diet, such as starch or protein.

What feeds do SealesWinlsow supply that are PKE free?

SealesWinslow has always offered a wide range of feed options tailored to each farm. Within the calf range, Calf Pro 20% Muesli, Calf Pro 20% Pellets and Calf Grow 16% Pellets are all PKE free. We also offer bulk dairy feeds with no PKE, such as Hi Starch, High Energy Hi Starch and Maxi-Pro. There are other options as well, these will range depending on the mill. Contacting your local rep or for a list of ingredients in our bulk products visit sealeswinslow.co.nz

Why choose pellets to fill the gap?

Feeds are commonly chosen for dry matter, energy and other nutritional attributes but what about how digestible it is? Pellets have a high digestibility. This is due to the selected raw materials but also the processing of them. The combination of heat, moisture and pressure cause the grains to gelatinise. This partial cooking process increases the digestibility, similar to popcorn before and after cooking. Before cooking, the corn has a hard exterior, some of the inside of the grain is digestible if consumed, however not all of it is available. After cooking, the heat increases the digestibility.
Pellets have low dust levels and have a high utilisation; they can also have minerals and additives added according to what your herd needs.

For more information contact your local SealesWinslow representative or call our customer service team on 0800 287 325

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