Alltech’s IFM analyzes rations to cut costs, reduce carbon footprint
Global animal health leader Alltech is launching a new support tool for nutritionists that not only evaluates and troubleshoots dairy rations to maximize feed efficiency and combat ever-rising feed costs, but also estimates the amount of energy lost as methane and methane emissions per animal. The In Vitro Fermentation Model (IFM) is a diagnostic tool that simulates rumen fermentation and evaluates the nutritive value of total mixed rations (TMR) in terms of digestibility and end-products formation.
“Available nutrition services traditionally provide measurements of chemical composition and digestibility, however this information is static and does not provide complete evaluation of nutrient availability,” said Dr. Kamal Mjoun, research scientist at the Alltech IFM Lab in Brookings, SD. “IFM is a more dynamic diagnostic tool that describes the chemical process of feed digestion rather than final measurement of digestibility.”
Using IFM technology, feed samples are incubated within a standardized rumen fluid and a buffer system to mimic natural rumen fermentation in an oxygen-free environment. IFM then measures gas production, identifies TMR inefficiencies and provides additional information on the nutritive value of the feed.
“This single test provides more accurate, informed recommendations to optimize feed in a relatively short period of time and at a lower cost compared with in vivo evaluations,” said Dr. Amanda Gehman, dairy research scientist at Alltech.
As digestion progresses, volumes of fermentation gases such as methane and carbon dioxide are also continuously monitored using an automated system.
Greenhouse gas emissions from the rumen, primarily methane and carbon dioxide, contribute up to 45 percent of the total carbon footprint associated with the production of a pound of milk or beef, according to a recent article published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Moreover Alltech’s researchers are now finding that ration composition and forage quality can significantly impact the volume of methane emitted as well as production efficiency.
The Carbon Trust, an organization that measures and certifies the environmental footprint of organizations, supply chains and products, recently verified that IFM is an effective tool for estimating farm-specific enteric methane emission from specific feeds.
“This new analytical approach demonstrates Alltech’s continued commitment to providing solutions and services to the dairy industry,” said Dr. Karl Dawson, chief scientific officer at Alltech. “With IFM we can troubleshoot potential problems and develop supplementation strategies, which are tailored to the customer’s feeding programs, ultimately to optimize dairy efficiency and profitability while minimizing the effects on the environment.”