Yes, you can go soya free

With increasing pressure from supermarkets and processors to go soya free, can it be done?   Yes, quite happily provided, like always, the diet is correctly formulated and balanced.

Usually, and depending on your level of production, it includes using a mixture of rape, protected rape, prairie meal and feed grade urea, or ideally molasses containing feed grade urea as its protein source.

We are all used to feeding rape.  There are several different protected rapes available, and they are not all created equal, so it pays to shop around and find the best value and best one to suit your diet.  Prairie meal should be a definite for any high yielding diet, due to its high levels of DUP (Bypass protein) and overall crude protein, and not a lot needs to be fed.  We all know Feed Grade Urea, but that is currently hard to come by and ideally urea should always be feed with an adequate supply of sugars in the diet, hence why it is ideally fed contained within a molasses-based product.

What however is missing from this list, and I believe essential for higher producing herds is the supplementation of amino acids in the diet.  The majority of UK diets are short of methionine, but once you remove soya, they are then usually short of lysine.

Last winter I was involved with two commercial partners in what was the first UK trial of the latest generation of rumen protected amino acids in a feed trial on a local farm.

The results are well documented, and I would be happy to share them with anyone that would like to see them, by supplementing the diet with amino acids we saw +3.2kg higher milk production, and an improvement of 3 days less in the calving interval.  This resulted in a ROI (Return on Investment) of 2.1 to 1 when feeding the amino acids.

This trial has since been repeated on a bigger farm in South Wales, see British Dairying December 2021, where they saw very similar results, but because they also recorded the information, they also saw a reduction in mastitis & metritis on farm, and therefore a greater ROI, (5.2:1).

You only need to feed the amino acids from transition to 120 DIM to see the benefits, and the calf in utero also sees the health benefits for a period after being born, after this there is still a lag effect on how it benefits the cow even though you have stopped feeding them.

Having priced up the corresponding, soya & soya free with amino acid supplementation diets, earlier this winter while initially the diet is more expensive soya free, over the course of the lactation they are almost identical in cost per litre, but with further benefits of improved health and fertility.

So yes, you can go soya free, and see the benefits for your cows.

If you’d like to discuss having a soya free diet or supplementing your diet with rumen protected amino acids, then please call FAR registered Dairy Nutritionist & CowSignals® Master Andrew Jones on 07717 44288 or email