EFI has been involved in the animal nutrition business for 20 years. Our ties to bypass fat research and production dates to 1972. What we have learned about bypass fats is extremely important to the dairy industry. If you are not familiar with this topic, we would like to make a formal introduction by way of this post.

Let’s begin with the assumption that every dairy farmer wants what’s best for his animals. Those animals are his lifeline. They are his bread and butter. A core component in providing the absolute best care is proper diet. That is where bypass fats come in.

A Simple Definition

Bypass fats are fats that resist digestion in the rumen. Note that feeds’ first destination, as it makes its way through a cow’s digestive system, is the rumen. Food in the rumen ‘ferments’ before continuing on its way. But that’s not the case with bypass fats.

Bypass fats pass through the rumen fully intact. This is a considerable benefit due to the fact that they don’t experience nutritional degradation, which is usually the case for feeds that ferment in the rumen. Because bypass fats pass through unaffected, they are fully absorbed by the intestines.

Think of it as similar to how non-ruminants digest fats. The animals get all the nutritional value the fats offer because they remain intact until digestion.

Why It Matters to Dairy Cows

With a basic understanding out of the way, it’s time to talk about why bypass fats matter to dairy cows. Dairy cows have one job: produce as much high-quality milk as possible. That is easier said than done. Like humans, dairy cows are subject to the whole host of things that can affect milk production. From environmental factors to sickness and disease, dairy cows are always up against something.

Adding bypass fats to a cow’s diet helps the animal do a better job of overcoming things that would otherwise decrease milk production. Bypass fats:

  • Boost Energy Levels – Bypass fats are a source of highly concentrated energy that cows desperately need during early lactation and periods of high milk production. When energy sources are lacking, both production and quality falter.
  • Improve Immune Function – PUFA-rich bypass fats can improve an animal’s disease resistance by modulating the immune system. More resistance to disease means higher milk production.
  • Improve Metabolic Balance – Certain bypass fats can also help maintain an animal’s metabolic balance. Combined with more energy and better rumen function, bypass fat can help stave off problems like ketosis.

While all these things improve milk production, bypass fats can also enhance milk quality by increasing fat content and enhancing composition. This potentially means higher prices for raw milk as well as better cheese yields.

Not All Bypass Fats Are the Same

It is worth noting that not all bypass fats are the same in terms of benefits. Therefore, one of the best ways to include bypass fats in a herd’s diet is to determine what’s lacking so that the right feed can be adopted. Modifications can be made throughout the year to accommodate changing circumstances.

For the record, bypass fats can include:

  • Fatty Acids – long chain acids that are especially resistant to rumen fermentation.
  • Vegetable Oils – oils with naturally high volumes of fat content, like palm oil.
  • Protected Fats – fats with a natural barrier that resists rumen function.

We are firmly committed to the idea of creating bypass fat-rich feeds that do a better job of increasing milk production and maintaining animal health than alternative energy supplements. If that appeals to you, let us talk.