Stearic acid has the potential to improve milk production without affecting feed efficiency, body weights or body condition scores, say Michigan State University dairy scientists.

They fed the saturated fatty acid to cows ranging in milk production from 71 to 142 lbs/day at the start of the trial. A corn silage- and alfalfa-based ration with 24.5% forage neutral detergent fiber, 25.1% starch and 17.3% crude protein was supplemented with stearic acid at 2% of the ration dry matter. A control ration contained soybean hulls instead of the acid.

Cows fed stearic acid produced more milk, but milkfat, milk protein and other component percentages weren’t affected. On average, they produced 89 lbs of 3.5% fat-corrected milk per day vs. 85 lbs/day for control cows. The greatest response was in high-producing cows, the scientists report.

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