The price of corn has increased 45 percent from 2005 to 2006. Corn grain is fed as a major energy source in lactating rations. How can one maintain the proper energy levels to continue one’s current milk production?

Besides feeding higher quality forage to increase intake or alternative energy concentrates, one may consider feeding more fat. The key is the total fat (not more than 7 percent crude fat as a concentration of the dry matter and the amounts of the different types of fats).

The range of 4 to 7 percent crude fat on a dry matter (DM) basis (especially greater than 6 percent) is when you need to watch the total amount and types of fat in the ration. Guidelines are 3 percent fat from the basal portion.

Additional fat can come from slow-release fats such as whole cottonseed or roasted soybeans. The oilseeds can supply from 0.8 to 1.5 pounds of fat in the ration. A very available source of fat comes from distillers grains. Watch the amount of fat, and don’t use more than 10 percent distillers grains in the ration. When fat is added to the ration, maintain adequate fiber and minerals, especially calcium and magnesium.

The use of saturated fat such as tallow works, but it is difficult to handle. The problem is that saturated fat is solid at room temperature. The fat must be heated or mixed in a liquid at 25 percent or less in the liquid. About 3 percent of the total fat can come from vegetable and animal sources.


One can use over 6 percent fat by using rumen inert fats. Watch that the total percent is less than 7 percent fat in the ration. The cost is higher than vegetable oil or tallow. The advantage is it has a minimal impact on rumen fermentation.

The use of added fat in the ration can help increase the energy density of the ration and may result in more milk. Supplemental fat may improve milk persistency and help body condition beyond peak production. When adding fat to the ration, add it slowly. PD