There is no major impact on dairy cow performance when feeding a 12% crude protein dairy nut compared with a 14% dairy nut, UCD Professor Finbarr Mulligan said on Thursday while speaking at an Irish Grain and Feed Association (IGFA) conference in Portlaoise, Co Laois.

Research from UCD Lyons Farm, he said, shows that protein concentrations as low as 12% in the supplementary dairy nut can sustain milk production levels for high-output grazing cows.

"You can reduce protein concentrate levels down to 12% without any major impact. The difference in fat and protein yield was not significant.

"In 2013 or 2014, we looked at an 18% versus a 14% and we saw the same thing - that you can reduce the protein in the supplements for grazing cows without negatively impacting performance," he said.

Grass proteins

However, Prof Mulligan did say that sustaining performance on a lower crude protein nut will depend on grass crude protein.

"Feeding concentrations as low as 12% are fine for grazing cows. Will they be fine if grass crude protein is 12%? I'm not so sure," he said.

Native grains

Mulligan added that supplementary dairy nuts based on a high usage of native ingredients can result in similar performance to that of dairy cows fed supplements based on imported ingredients.