— A breakthrough lysine formulation for better cow nutrition
Improving dairy cow nutrition and productivity with an amino acid
With good nutrition, a dairy cow can produce 9,000 liters of milk or more per year. The key to maintaining this level of production is nutritionally balanced feed. Lysine is an essential amino acid for cows, and lysine supplements have long been considered necessary for milk production. Just after calving, in particular, cows produce a large volume of milk but have difficulty maintaining sufficient feed intake. Balanced nutrition is thus vitally important, and lysine supplements are added to the diet to maximize milk production and maintain optimum health in the cows.
The efficiency of lysine uptake, however, is reduced by the action of digestion and absorption systems specific to cows and other ruminants. The Ajinomoto Group decided to resolve this problem and improve dairy cow nutrition through a reliable, efficient, lysine delivery system. It was the beginning of a long, difficult process of trial and error.
The "barrel theory" of amino acid uptake
The body cannot synthesize essential amino acids, so they must come from food. In the “barrel theory” (illustrated at right), each stave of the barrel represents an essential amino acid as a proportion of daily nutritional requirements. If an amino acid corresponding to just one stave is deficient, the availability of the other amino acids becomes limited like water in a barrel with one short stave. Because livestock feeds such as corn, wheat, and other grains have a poor amino acid balance, essential amino acids that are lacking are typically added to the feeds given to monogastric animals such as pigs and chickens. For dairy cows, the amino acid lysine is a limiting factor because it is in short supply in their feed — that is, it’s one of the shortest staves in the barrel.
A lysine formulation that reaches the small intestine
With ordinary lysine supplements, most of the lysine is decomposed by microbes in the rumen, the first of a cow’s four stomachs. As a result, it fails to reach the small intestine and is not absorbed into the body as a nutrient. To overcome this problem, a controlled-release formulation, that remains intact in the rumen and then gradually dissolves and is absorbed where needed, was necessary.
The Ajinomoto Group developed a new granulation technology to protect the amino acid components. The lysine formulation is contained in granules that are surrounded by a barrier layer composed of hydrogenated vegetable oil. This layer prevents decomposition of the lysine during passage through the rumen, but allows elution by digestive juices when the granules reach the small intestine.
Breakthrough by a multi-disciplinary team of specialists
Ajinomoto scientists and experts in animal nutrition, production processes, and other disciplines joined forces to create a lysine formulation for cow feed featuring full bioavailability while limiting production costs. Although repeated production trials identified significant challenges, our R&D team devised an in vivo technology that made possible fast and efficient identification of promising prototype formulations.
The original evaluation technology that accelerated development
The new, in vivo evaluation technology assessed the bioavailability of lysine formulations by conducting trials on cows and analyzing the compiled data. Specifically, the R&D team came up with model solutions for rumen juice and small intestine fluid, and then used these models to establish a simple in vitro evaluation technology that yields results equivalent to those of in vivo experiments. This made it possible to rapidly screen the prototype formulations.
Fact-based development, market leadership and sustainability
In 2011, AjiPro®-L was launched in North America, where it rapidly became the top brand among lysine formulations for dairy cows. Market acceptance was based on the accumulated body of reliable scientific data. Our research team continues to accumulate data that will be used to enhance the efficacy of AjiPro®-L. Their findings will be presented at a scientific meeting in collaboration with universities in the US.
The Ajinomoto Group will continue to employ its knowledge and technologies related to amino acids to promote environmental and food-resource sustainability by lowering nitrogen oxide emissions from domestic animals and conserving arable land used for feed grain production.