The Skinny on Palm Fats
Maximizing Milk Yield & Butterfat Potential
The modern dairy cow has the ability to produce tremendous volumes of milk and milk components, such as milk protein and milk fat. With this increased production potential also comes a much higher energy demand for the cow to reach it’s maximum potential. As a result, in many cases supplemental fat to the ration can help cover these increased needs and Palm Fat is finding a foundation role in supporting milk and milk fat production levels.
Palm Oil Market
The increasing role of Palm Fats in dairy rations has brought a whole new market to play in North America. The palm oil market currently represents over 65 Million tonne, the vast majority being produced in Malaysia and Indonesia.
The main drivers for price fluctuation in this market are:
- Other vegetable oils markets supply and demand ie. Soy, Canola and Sunflower oils
- Weather – wet or dry; affecting supply
- Crude Oil prices – via biodiesel
Palm Fats – C16:0 & C18:0
Yet, the results from the feeding of Palm Fat to dairy cows is well worth it. Fat is the most energy dense nutrient available containing almost four times the energy value of a carbohydrate. It is a well-known fact that long chain fatty acids such as C16:0 and C18:0, found in palm fats, are the most influential ingredient affecting lactation efficiency because their incorporation into milk butterfat is more efficient than even milk fat synthesis in the udder.
Bypass Fat – High Melting Point
Due to the high melting point of palm fats, they are able to bypass the rumen and be absorbed in the small intestine. This bypass fat allows the cow to benefit from the fatty acids instead of degrading in the rumen and depressing fibre digestion.
C16:0 & C18:0
C16:0 and C18:0 are similar in their chemical formula, only differing by two carbon atoms. However, their presence and role in the dairy cow’s metabolism are quite different. Depending on the production goal of feeding Palm Fats, selecting the correct fatty acid to feed will determine success.
C16:0 – Palmitic Acid
- Palmitic acid is the most common saturated fatty acid found in plants, animals and microorganisms. Common sources of C16:0 include palm oil, coconut oil and milk fat.
- Palmitic acid is the fatty acid found in the greatest quantity in milk fat.
- Feeding C16:0 rich palm fats can increase butterfat percentage by 0.2-0.4 percentage points, dependent on ration formulation.
C18:0 – Stearic Acid
- Stearic acid is prevalent in nature, found in animal and vegetable fats.
- Stearic acid is the most abundant fatty acid available to the dairy cow and is used to a greater extent for milk production and energy balance.
- Feeding C18:0 rich palm fats increases milk yield, improves body condition and enhances fertility.