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PRICE VS. ROI: WHICH FAT SHOULD I CHOOSE?

1. ¿DOES IT MAKE SENSE TO FOCUS SO MUCH ON MILK FAT % AT ALMOST ANY COST?

The use of fats or oils in dairy cattle rations is a common strategy to increase the energy density of the ration (Rabiee et al., 2012) in order to combat the NEB (Negative Energy Balance).and keep milk yield/production level.

In recent years, the search for higher income (which does not always means profitability) has led to an increase in the use of certain fat supplements that help to increase milk fat %. However, the calculation of the economic return and the global effects in the animal (production in the lactation cycle, body condition, reproduction, and metabolic health) are usually out of the purchasing decision process.

In this sense, the fatty acid profile of the fat supplements greatly influences the abovementioned aspects, and as a consequence, dairy farm’s profitability.

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Figure 1. Cascade of effects of fatty acids profiles: aspects to consider during fat’s purchasing decision


1.1. Digestibility

Unsaturated fatty acids have a high duodenal digestibility. Particularly, oleic acid (C18:1) improves the solubility and favors the formation of micelle, thus improving the digestibility of total fat in diet. 

Examples like this justify the formulation of diets with an approach on fatty acids instead that just fats. However, most feeding systems pay little (if any) attention to fatty acids nutrition, despite the recurrence of "precision animal nutrition". This represents a challenge for nutritionists and feed softwares.

1.2. Metabolic Effects of Fatty Acids

Cows at the beginning of lactation are genetically predisposed to produce high amounts of milk, which is achieved at the expense of the loss of body fat. In this sense, palmitic acid (C16:0) is substrate for ceramide novo synthesis (McFadden, 2017). In turn, ceramides reduce insulin sensitivity (Rico et al., 2015), increasing non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) mobilization of from adipose tissue (Rico et al., 2016, Davis et al., 2017), which in practice could mean that adding more palmitic acid to the diet could exacerbates this energy/nutrients partitioning profile, mobilizing excess body reserves, with the consequent risk of the appearance of metabolic diseases, such as ketosis, along with the consequences it carries on both immunity and reproduction.

In addition, from the point of view of dairy products’ quality, different problems have been observed in cheese and butter (e.g. in Holland and UK) as consequence of the increase in dairy products’ melting point (coming from a higher content of C16:0 and of the ratio saturated/unsaturated fatty acids. This also has negative consequences on the healthiness of these products for humans.

In contrast, oleic acid (C18: 0), because of its stimulating effects on insulin, make it to be a desirable fatty acid at the beginning...

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