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Selko HealthyLife | Dairy Performance


Improving dairy farm profitability by increasing milk solids

How to increase the production of milk fat and protein?

In most countries, payment for milk is directly related to the amount of milk produced as well as to fat and protein percentage. A common parameter to compare milk production between farms with different levels of solids in the milk is the amount of Energy Corrected Milk (ECM) produced on the farm.

A common formula to calculate ECM is53:

kg milk production x
(0.383 x fat % + 0.242 x protein % + 0.7832)


Cows need 12 meals per day to stay healthy

Cows need 12 meals a day to reduce the risk of rumen and hindgut acidosis, thus preventing “leaky gut” and systemic immune activation. To ensure dairy cows can eat 12 meals a day, good feed and barn management is essential. There needs to be enough space at the feeding fence for each cow to eat without feeling stress or pain.

How to increase the protein percentage of milk in a dairy herd

The percentage of protein in milk is directly related to the energy supply to the udder. In other words, by managing the negative energy balance that occurs after calving, the protein percentage in milk of dairy cows can be optimised.

How to increase the fat percentage of milk in a dairy herd

The percentage of fat in milk is mostly related to the quality of rumen fermentation and to hindgut health. There are a number of ways to increase fat percentage in milk, related to animal factors, feeding management, diet and dietary interventions that can reach the hindgut of dairy cows.

Animal factors

  • Breed, lactational stage and season all have an effect
  • Manage the transition to lactation in such a way that the incidence of metabolic diseases is low
  • Introduce fresh cows into the lactating group in batches once every 2 weeks
  • Consider a separate heifer group54

Feeding management

  • Increase the number of meals per day
  • Ideally provide fresh feed twice daily55
  • Push up the feed regularly
  • Avoiding sorting
  • Ensure sufficient space at the feeding fence and ensure it offers cows comfort while eating56

Feed a correct ration57

  • Provide enough effective fibre
  • Ensure dry matter percentage of the ratio is not too low
  • Don’t feed too much rumen active fat, use rumen protected fats
  • Don’t feed too much unsaturated fats
  • Avoid sub-acute rumen acidosis, so don’t feed too much fast fermenting carbohydrates
  • Sulfate forms of trace minerals can have a negative impact on fibre digestibility because sulfates are toxic to bacteria. Use trace minerals which contain the hydroxy form of zinc and copper instead of sulfates


  • Yeast or yeast derived products can stabilize rumen pH of dairy cows and thus improve fermentation
  • If there are large amounts of fast fermentable carbohydrates in the diet, add a buffer such as sodium carbonate
  • Hindgut acidosis can cause “leaky gut“, which can cause a drop in milk fat production. Use hydroxy forms of trace minerals42 and rumen protected prebiotic43,46,47 and to improve hindgut health and to increase the production of milk fat44,45,48,49,50

Feed efficiency of dairy cows is a key driver of dairy farm profitability

Feeding IntelliBond trace minerals improves digestibility of fibre in the diet, enabling cows to produce more milk out of the same amount of feed.

Learn more about how Selko IntelliBond helps to improve fibre digestibility to optimize performance

HealthyLife | solutions based on science

Increase your milk production by improving fibre digestibility

Contact your local IntelliBond representative for more information

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Download more research and documentation

You can access all of our documentation about HealthyLife protocols, sustainable dairy farming and latest research insights about Dairy Cow transition management.

Download the Technical brochure "How to increase the production of milk fat"

Milk production of dairy cows and the fat percentage in milk can be increased by improving rumen fermentation and hindgut health. Protein percentage and milk production can be improved by managing the negative energy balance after calving correctly.

Check out our Technical brochures "Increasing the production of milk fat" and "Managing the negative energy balance in dairy cows" and our protocols.

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