Feed Strategy - January 2018 - 31
FeedStrategy ❙ 31
Utilization of metaproteomics, transcriptomics, nutrigenomics and metabolomics may drive efficiency
and sustainability in dairy production in the future. Science RF
increase substantially. Thus, there is an ongoing battle
between land for growing energy-dense feed crops and
land for food production. Identifying and utilizing land
that has little to no opportunity to grow energy- and/or
protein-dense crops for livestock will be critical to sustainable ruminant production.
Examining the ruminant feeding system
To reduce ruminants' impact on the environment,
examination of the drivers is essential. For example, key
drivers for a dairy operation at the farm gate include
milk yield, feeding systems and the proportion of the
production cycle for which a dairy cow is unproductive.
The feeding system is extremely critical as it covers
ingredients offered to the cows and how those ingredients have been produced, e.g., either on the farm
in the case of home-grown forages, or in feed mills,
and/or imported, as in the case of many concentrates.
Obviously, as different crops require different production methods and, in particular, fertilizers and machinery usage, using different ingredients in lactating cow
diets can ultimately impact the milk carbon footprint.
Therefore, typical feed ingredients and forages can be
evaluated for their global warming potential (GWP)
based on how they are produced, where they are transported from/to, what treatments they are subjected to
January 2018 ❙ www.WATTAgNet.com
and what land use change their production generates.
Reducing the length of the unproductive life of a
dairy cow also results in a lower milk carbon footprint,
as this influences the gram of CO2 produced per liter of milk. Therefore, key performance indicators that
influence the herd structure, such as herd culling rate
percentage, age at first calving and calving interval,
can substantially reduce or increase the milk carbon
footprint on a dairy farm. Clearly, these parameters also
directly influence the farm's financial performance, but
it is sometimes difficult to assign an exact value to them.
Influence of the rumen microbial ecosystem
There is much focus on whole systems and how the
rumen microbial ecosystem influences gross parameters,
such as methane emission and production efficiency. The
Ruminomics EU FP7 project has delivered some excellent work on this topic. A recent paper from this project
cited that the use of meta-omics technologies as the way
forward in elucidating the role of not only rumen bacteria
but the whole microbial community. It seems reasonable
that influence of the rumen ecosystem as a whole, rather
than specific individuals, will be of significance, and use
of meta-proteomics, transcriptomics, nutrigenomics and
metabolomics may well be the future with regards to
driving efficiency and sustainability.