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Update on the Fat Evaluation Index

Bridget Maclean of Fonterra shared insights around the Fat Evaluation Index with NZARN.
  • Fonterra introduces a Fat Evaluation Index (FEI) Grading System to come into force September 2018.  Earlier in 2017, farmers were informed of their FEI results on milk dockets.
  • This index was designed to indicate the suitability of the milk fat composition for processing into a variety of products.
  • The link between FEI and PKE use has been researched by AgResearch and DairyNZ with funding from Fonterra and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) in the Pastoral21 programme.
  • Studies with dairy cows at different lactation stages, supported by computer modelling, show a very strong relationship between the amount of PKE fed and the FEI rating.  The strength of the relationship is so good that the simplest way to predict the FEI of bulk milk is to know the average PKE intake of the milking herd (on a per cow basis).  However, it is important to note that several other factors including the breed of cow, other feeds fed, and environment also influence the fat composition of milk.
  • Adding fodder beet in combination with PKE increases FEI above that of feeding PKE alone.  Other high sugar feeds are likely to have similar effects (e.g. molasses, biscuit meal).  However, farmers are less likely to see such significant changes to FEI from these, as they are not usually fed at quantities as fodder beet.  High starch and low fat feeds (e.g. potatoes) will also increase FEI but not as significantly as fodder beet.

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