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New dairy dietary supplement is taking off

By Laura Theobald

ltheobald@agrinews.com

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- After a six-year patenting process, a new dairy cattle dietary supplement called EnRG Flakes is ready to be marketed.

At the first Tri-State Dairy Conference last week, Rodney Vander Veen, dairy farmer and regional sales manager, presented a seminar on his company's new product.

Midwest EnRG Flakes, out of Sheldon, Iowa, began steaming soybeans in April 2003. The beans are an alternative to cottonseed, roasted beans, soybean meal and expelled soybean meal.

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"Cattle have nutritional requirements, not ingredient requirements," Vander Veen said at the seminar. "Our goal is to leave the oil cell of the bean intact."

The oil cell remains untouched through the process of steam-heating, flaking and flash-drying, thus preserving calorie-filled fats.

"You're going to get more energy with that sealed fat," Vander Veen said.

Because the unique process uses inside air for flash-drying, the moisture is consistent. Moisture levels stay around 12 to 13 percent, extending shelf life.

Benefits of EnRG Flakes, Vander Veen said, usually include an increase in undegradable protein and fat and a decrease in feed costs.

According to Vander Veen's presentation, diets that include the flakes can also improve milk production, improve milk components such as butterfat and improve cow health.

"I've had dairies with every one of these responses; I've had dairies with one of these responses," Vander Veen said.

The one edge cottonseed has over EnRG Flakes is fiber content; diets that replaced equal amounts of cottonseed with EnRG Flakes usually increased haylage to balance out fiber.

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"The biggest thing is going to be distribution," Vander Veen said. Once the word is out, he anticipates the flakes taking off.

"Vander Veen said he knows around southeastern Minnesota he might be stepping on some toes as many farms around here have on-farm roasters. But, he said, steam heat is easier to control than an open flame. With a typical roaster, about one third of the beans will be overcook, one third will be undercooked, and only a third will turn out right.

"The more competition we have the better," said Richard Johnson, a dairy farmer in Houston County who attended the EnRG Flakes presentation.

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