Feed and Product Analysis

DPSL obtain dairy stock feed from several feed companies. They provide DPSL with an analysis of the feeds they provide, so our consultants can establish the best feeds for our clients.

Palm Kernel Extract – dairy stock feed

Palm Kernel Extract (PKE) is produced as a by-product of the mechanical extraction of Palm Kernel Oil from the kernel of the fruit of the Oil Palm. Palm Oil itself comes from the soft flesh (mesocarp) of the palm fruit. Palm Kernel Oil comes from the kernel of the fruit and PKE is what is left after the kernel (pip) is crushed under heat. Annually there is about 46 million tonnes of Palm Oil produced, 4-6 million tonnes of Palm Kernel Oil and a similar amount of Palm Kernel Extract produced. Our biggest supply comes in from South East Asia.

It is a stock feed containing 8% – 11% Oil, 16% – 18% Crude Protein and 10.5-12.5 MJ ME/kg DM (energy).

Cows may take 2-3 days to adapt to this feed but once it is introduced it can be fed at need. It is a safe stock feed for most classes of livestock due to low levels of starch and sugar, which reduce the risk of acidosis.

PKE is an excellent source of fibre, dry matter and energy. The Neutral Detergent Fibre (NDF) level in PKE is about 65%, which is high; however, PKE does not act like other forages of a similar NDF. As it does not take up much physical room (bulk) in the rumen due to its fine texture, it causes minimal pasture substitution.

Palm Kernel Extract frequently results in higher milk fat test and improved body condition when fed to lactating cows. Feeding grazing stock may be carried out with minimal capital outlay, feeding as required in long trailers is common. PKE is a feed that can be fed at any time of the year. If grass supply is low, in wet or dry conditions, high levels can be fed if necessary, up to 7-8 kg for each cow. Feeding immediately before calving should be limited as this may lead to an increase in the incidence of milk fever.

Young stock, post-weaning, do very well on PKE as do heifers. It can be fed in shed feeding systems (best blended to aid ogre function as it can bridge when fed alone), mixer wagons, long troughs or trailers. PKE can be blended with high starch feeds to reduce cost and the risk of acidosis. It goes well when blended with forages such as silages.

Product Standard Specifications:

  •  Dry Matter DM: 90 %
  • Energy: 11.7MJ/Kg DM
  • Protein: 17 %
  • Crude Fibre: 17.5 %
  • Fat: 8 %
  • NDF Level: 60 – 65 %
  • Starch: 3 – 5 %

Dry matter: Typically 90-92% dry matter.

Crude Protein: Typically in the range of 16-18% so is a medium level protein feed. In comparison to leafy pasture the protein in PKE is slower to be digested, 60% rumen degradable and only 13% soluble, thus complementing quality pasture.

Energy: At 10.5-12.5 MJ/kg DM PKE is comparable to energy in cereal grains. However with very little starch (3%) or sugar (4%) PKE is ideally suited to be fed in conjunction with a starch or a sugar source like cereal grain or maize silage or molasses. Typically the addition of molasses improves the digestibility of PKE.

Fibre: Laboratory tests show that PKE has a high fibre content testing 60-65% NDF. What many of the laboratory tests do not describe, however, is that a large portion of the fibre in PKE is highly digestible (60% of NDF is digested in 30 hours). Unlike many feeds with high NDF values the fibre component of PKE does not take up a lot of rumen space, thus reducing substitution, and contributes considerably to the energy content.

Oil: Being mechanically extracted, PKE contains higher oil (8-10%) content than many of the solvent extracted oilseed meals. Palm Kernel Oil is mostly a saturated fat (85%) that is largely rumen stable, and does not interfere with rumen function. This is a considerable source of energy for the cow, and must be considered when estimating the ME of PKE.

Minerals: Calcium 0.45% (average), Phosphorus 0.6% (good), Magnesium 0.3% (good) Sulphur 0.2% (low). NB very low in salt, Sodium 0.009%. Copper 24ppm (high) from field liver testing this seems to be relatively available. Zinc 42ppm (average), Manganese 224ppm (high), Molybdenum 0.3ppm (average), Cobalt nil (very low).

Starch: PKE contains virtually no starch and as such is an ideal feed when energy intake is inadequate but grain or maize feeding is not viable or at its limit.


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