Project news Efficient use of protein in cattle feed in response to climate legislation

17/12/2019
Cow eating roughage
Protein savings in cattle feed should benefit the environment and climate

Saving on protein through improving roughage quality, precision nutrition and more efficient cows: that is the triple goal of project EKOPTI. Protein savings should benefit the environment - through reduced emissions as well as a smaller climate impact - and generate savings for farms.

Focus on protein in cattle feed

EKOPTI stands for Protein and Cow OPTImalization ("Eiwit en Koe OPTImaliseren" in Dutch). The aim is more efficient utilization of feed protein by cattle. Specifically, we focus on improving the protein quality of home-grown feeds, developing protein-saving feeding strategies through precision feeding, and improving feed efficiency and protein utilization through optimization of rumen function. At the same time, we are investigating how we can - economically - reduce nitrogen and phosphorus excretions and emissions to the environment.

Various strategies

We set up a total of three ILVO animal trials and seven specific cases on practicing farms. Each time we map the effect of protein saving strategies in terms of animal performance, production, protein saving, feed efficiency, cost efficiency and environmental and climate impact. We divide the trials and practical cases into three sections: protein saving by optimizing roughage quality, protein saving by precision feeding and protein saving by more efficient cows. We carry out a phosphate scan and evaluate each strategy investigated for its economic and ecological added value. Through scientific publications, demonstrations and seminars, discussion groups and practice sheets, we disseminate the acquired knowledge so that farmers and other involved actors can apply the improved practices.

Relevance for the entire cattle sector

We expect a real economic impact on the entire cattle sector as validated protein-saving strategies become available in practice. Farms needing to reduce their ammonia emissions because of the nitrogen legislation (PAS) are already asking for this kind of knowledge. EKOPTI prepares the entire sector for possible new legal obligations and prevents farms from having reduction as the only possible response to stricter climate and environmental regulations.

Project title: EKOPTI
Term: 2020 - 2024
Funding: VLAIO LA-traject
Partner: Inagro

Questions?

Contact us

Leen Vandaele

Cattle farming expert

Tine Van den Bossche

ILVO researcher

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