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© 1998, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.


This NebGuide describes feeding guidelines to increase milk fat and protein production.

Proper feeding management of dairy herds can both improve the economy of production and provide a healthier cow. To achieve these goals, producers must feed to increase production of milk with maximum levels of milk fat and protein.

Milk solids components include fat, protein, lactose and minerals. Normal values for milk fat range from 3.7 percent (Holstein) to 4.9 percent (Jersey); milk protein ranges from 3.1 percent (Holstein) to 3.8 percent (Jersey). Lactose is usually 4.6–4.8 percent for all breeds; minerals (ash) average .74 percent. Because current milk pricing formulas emphasize milk fat and protein, maintaining milk fat and protein tests provides an economic advantage. Normal milk fat percentages also reflect good rumen and cow health. Generally, diets which cause low milk fat test also cause sore feet (laminitis), acidosis and feed intake problems. Milk protein has economic value because higher protein leads to higher cheese yields. Increasingly, milk protein content is being emphasized.