The Amino Acid balancing Act

Published on Wed, 04/19/2017 - 10:05am

The Amino Acid balancing Act

Encapsulated Amino Acids from H.J. Baker are Having a Big Impact on the Dairy Industry

By Maura Keller

Amino Acids in the Dairy Diet
In the world of dairy farming, it is well known that balancing for amino acids increases milk production and improves protein and fat component percentages in dairy cows. In addition, amino acids can impact productivity by affecting metabolism and immune function. Research has determined that the amino acids lysine and methionine are the first limiting nutrients for milk production.
Current industry practices rely heavily on the practice of over-feeding crude protein to meet the cow’s requirement for these two key nutrients. We call this the “swing with the big hammer” approach.
Balancing for amino acids in dairy herds delivers more milk and improved milk component quality. It also improves feed efficiency, lowers protein lost in manure and reduces nitrogen output, which can reduce a cow’s environmental impact. That’s where products that deliver amino acids directly to the dairy cows’ small intestine come to relevance.

Historically Speaking
For 166 years, H.J. Baker, headquartered in Shelton, Connecticut, has been a global manufacturer and supplier of agricultural goods and services. In addition, the company sponsored some of the first amino acid research conducted by Drs. Charlie Sniffen and Bill Chalupa in the 1980s. This fundamental research determined what amino acid requirements the dairy cow might have. Dr. Paul Chandler , who also worked closely with HJB during this timeframe, evaluated the research results from Drs. Sniffen and Chalupa and helped developed HJB’s first dairy product ProLak, a natural bypass protein supplement.

As Dr. Kip Karges, Director of Technical Services for Animal Health & Nutrition at H.J. Baker, explains, “ProLak, which is comprised of natural protein sources high in bypass amino acids, was designed to provide key amino acids that had been identified as “limiting amino acids” in the research worked conducted by Chalupa and Sniffen, specifically lysine and methionine.
“ProLak was marketed by HJB beginning in the 1980s and is still sold today,” Karges says. “It has become one of the pillar products that the company has developed and provided to the industry — improving milk yield performance and milk components.”
Fast forward 30 years, and HJB has further refined its amino acid research and developed two encapsulated amino acid products: MetaboLys and MetaboMet.
“Both of these amino acids, methionine and lysine, have been identified as the first and second limiting amino acids in milk production and components,” Karges says. “MetaboLys and MetaboMet amino acid products provide the dairy industry with precision nutrients allowing for precision nutrition through formulation to impact milk performance in a positive manner. These products have opened the door for the nutritionist to balance for specific amino acids requirements.”
According to Karges, these requirements have been identified through research, allowing production parameters to be opened up, enhancing milk production of today’s modern dairy cow.
“Without these types of specific precision ingredients, feeding to optimize production to the genetic potential of the modern dairy cow can become very challenging,” Karges says.

The Role of Amino Acids
Amino acids have been researched in the dairy industry for several decades but it has not been until recently that we have seen encapsulated amino acids really grow in popularity.
As Karges explains, these encapsulated amino acids allow for the delivery of a particular nutrient, namely an amino acid, to a specific target area within the digestive system of the animal. It is here that the encapsulated amino acid is released in the target area, allowing nutrient absorption to occur with a very high efficiency.
“Amino acid nutrition has been heavily researched for many decades now,” Karges says. “The cumulative results of this research has now identified known requirements for key amino acids. These requirements are today being balanced for dairy cow diets and are having a direct impact on milk performance and milk component parameters.” Also understanding these key nutrient requirements allows dairymen to manage herds for a higher production output with lower gross feed inputs, all through the power of nutrition.
“As the nutrition industry unlocks more key nutrients that have obvious benefits in performance, the industry will begin to enter into a new phase of getting more nutrition out of less nutrients that go into the cow,” Karges says. “This can impact not only milk performance, but also reproductive performance as well as reducing environmental challenges stemming from the over feeding of crude protein in dairy diets thus helping to reduce nitrogen output from the cow.
Encapsulated amino acids MetaboLys and MetaboMet, protecting amino acids from rumen degradation, are having a big impact on the dairy industry. Research shows that approximately 90% of HJ Baker’s MetaboLys G3 bypasses the rumen and enters the small intestine where approximately 80% is released for absorption in the small intestine. The same concept with MetaboMet is seen where for every 1,000 grams of product fed, MetaboMet delivers 340 grams of metabolizable Methionine.
Historically, the dairy industry has two fundamental ways to balance for protein requirements.

As Karges explains, in the past we have used the “big hammer approach,” using certain levels of crude protein as the target for dairymen to manage for protein requirements.
“But with the help of many years of research, today most nutritionists balance for a certain level of metabolizable protein (MP) or some have taken it to the next step and are balancing for certain levels of amino acids — primarily targeting methionine and lysine,” Karges says.
And dairymen can often times find it challenging to manage for certain amino acid requirements by using the common feedstuffs that are available to them today. But if one is going to manage and target certain levels of amino acids in the diet then more often than not it is going to require the supplementation of encapsulated amino acids.
“By using these precision ingredients, one can tailor a nutrition program to the specific deficiencies that exist for a particular dairy farm based on his specific feedstuffs,” Karges says.
Of course managing appropriate amino acid intake and levels are not without its challenges. Some of the challenges that arise with encapsulated products are ensuring accurate information is known about the products’ rumen bypass value and digestibility.
“Suppliers should be able to provide this type of information about their products, allowing for the precision formulation that needs to happen with rations,” Karges says. “In addition, it can sometimes be challenging for the nutritionist to push themselves out of their comfort zone of using the MP protein system to learn more about amino acid nutrition as well as the different ration balancing dairy platform programs that exist on the market today. Moving towards change and adapting new technologies comes with a willingness for people to step out of the comfort zones”

For further information on Metabolys G3 or Metabomet products: visit or call customer service 501-664-4870.