Copra Meal – What is it?
Produced from the Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera), Copra is the dried section
of the meaty inner lining of the coconut fruit. Ripe coconuts are split and
laid in the sun to dry, with flame drying also used in some instances to aid
in reducing moisture down to the required 14 per cent prior to additional processing.
The principle process of extracting coconut oil from the meat is achieved
within an ‘expeller’ press where the dried coconut flesh is subjected
to pressurised steam and mechanical rollers to express the coconut oil. The
resultant product is the copra expeller meal.
Copra meal is generally a light to dark brown colour being reflective of where
the coconut trees are grown, climate, soil type and extraction method. The extraction
method refers to either single or double expeller extraction, the later removing
more of the coconut oil and therefore increasing the protein level as a percentage
of the meal.
The aggregate is generally a fine meal, thus allowing the copra meal to readily travel
through all feed dispensing systems.
Copra carries a pleasant odour which stock find highly acceptable, the aroma
also has the benefits of being able to mask taints associated with anionic salts
(i.e. magnesium products) which may be used during certain times of the year
as part of a farm management policy.
Typically copra meal is sold for sale under the following specifications:
||12-14% (Mj ME/.kg Dry Matter)
||15 (Mj ME /Kg DM)
||8% (ether extracts)
||33% (Acid Detergent Fibre - ADF)
There are three key attributes contained within copra meal which makes it
superior to almost all other economically viable supplementary feeds. Firstly,
the by-pass protein level ensures that the valuable protein level contained
within copra is not degraded in the rumen but is absorbed further down the digestive
tract to maximum effect.
Secondly, the energy supplied via copra is from its high oil content rather
than starch as in most other grains (i.e. maize grain/silage, barley). This
oil is ‘low heating’ minimising acidosis type metabolic problems
occurring where the excessive build up of acid in the gut extends into the large
intestines destroying the friendly bacteria population, leading to ongoing metabolic
Thirdly, the well balanced nutrient profile gives copra meal the advantage
of being able to be fed as a sole ration. Consequently it is superbly suited
to blending with maize silage, balancing the high energy content of the maize
silage with the oil content and protein profile of copra meal – effectively
the protein deficiencies of maize silage, most importantly that of the amino
acid L-lysine are corrected. L-lysine being intimately related to milk production
more specifically milk fat production
|Typical Amino Acid Profile:
||Fatty Acid Profile
As a strategic feed copra is an excellent product that cost effectively helps
fill feed gaps and maintains good cow condition particularly over the summer
period and as cows come into cycle for reproduction. Many farmers cite that
their ‘empty’ cow percentage dramatically reduces after using copra
where it is used to keep condition on the herd prior to mating. Copra also has
few of the negative attributes associated with other protein sources such as
those now being linked to lucerne supplementation.
Copra should be considered a true supplement in that it does not substitute
itself in favour of pasture, offering tremendous advantages over almost all
other single ingredient feeds at its price level.
For further information on copra meal and its application we recommend that
you download from the Organic Products website an Acrobat PDF file titled ‘Copra
for Ruminants’ from the following address:
Copra Meal - Applications
Transition/Springer Feeding (21days pre-calving)
During the transition period New Zealand dairy cows can be deficient in by-pass
protein and energy. Appetite is reduced and feeding bitter anionic salts can
cause variable and low feed intakes below the cow’s requirements.
Cows are supporting exponential calf protein growth in the last month of pregnancy.
This growth may be coming from the cow’s own reserves, in many cases this
leaves the cow prone to ketosis and other metabolic disorders even pre-calving.
Increased dry matter intake including using copra and grain can assist the cow
at this time.
Copra has been used since 1999 to successfully improve early appetite, carry
and “mask” taste of anionic salts and improve protein percent and
yield in early lactation.
Copra can be used to balance maize silage that is fed especially to reduce
high DCABs that can be come from the pasture. High DCAB values are detrimental
to cow health such as milk fever and secondary metabolic problems. Sub-clinical
problems can also prove more costly than clinical cases as there are usually
more cows affected with the main cost coming from a loss in milk production.
Transition diets including maize silage (2-3 kg), copra (1-1.5 kg), by-pass
fat (200 g), pasture (6-9 kg) have produced improved milk yields of 30% over
previous season feeding strategies. Milk fever has been almost eliminated on
such diets where anionic salts (Magnesium chloride and Magnesium sulphate) have
been correctly supplemented. These feeding strategies have proved most successful
with Jersey herds that are more prone to milk fever.
Feeding strategic supplements as described, allows better control and re-growth
of limited pasture supplies during the transition phase.
- There is a high demand for nutrient dense protein and energy in this period.
- Rumen volume and cow appetite is shrinking and calf demand increasing.
- Future metabolic and health problems must be minimised by management in
- Anionic salts are critical to reducing milk fever and secondary metabolics.
- Copra has the advantage of being a highly palatable carrier and “taste
masker” for carrying anionic salts, which are bitter tasting.
- Copra supplies much needed protein and energy at this time.
- Copra supplies Magnesium, Phosphorus and Calcium among other vital trace
minerals and vitamins.
Early Lactation to Peak Milk Production.
The average New Zealand cow and herd is seldom deficient in protein in this
period where pasture represents 80-90% of the diet. Energy deficiency is the
greatest and is made worse by the cow needing to rid excess pasture protein
coming from the pasture. Extra energy is best supplied from a starch source
(grain, maize silage). Fat energy coming from Copra and by-pass fat can be very
useful but this should not be the only source. Starch energy is more valuable
to the rumen microbes and rumen function.
The case for supplementing with Copra comes when stocking rate (over 3.5 –
4.0 per hectare) and per cow production (over 25-27 litres/2.2 kg milk solids
at peak) are high. Cows producing 400 – 450 kg of solids and 1,100 –
1,200 kg per hectare or more will require some protein supplements through lactation.
Where high levels of maize silage are used to support high producing cows;
Copra can be used to re-balance the overall diet, which is often deficient in
by-pass protein and sometimes rumen degradable protein.
Reproduction and Fertility Improvement
Poor transition cow management will always result in more metabolic problems
that cause lower milk volumes and milk solids and also poorer reproductive performance.
In a trial where two nearly identical herds were fed similar pasture quality
and quantity, one herd was fed copra and anionic salts in the transition period.
The difference in reproductive performance was improved to only have 3% empties
versus 8% empties in the standard herd. The district average was around 7-8%
in this particular season.
A combination of reduced metabolic problems; better nutrition and improved
weight control are the key factors explaining this result.
Poor milking persistency from November onwards is a major problem in New Zealand.
Pasture quality is poor and supply is reduced. Pasture protein, energy levels
and digestibility is low while fibre levels are high. Heat stress and high fibre
heat the cow up which depresses appetite. Cows are using protein off their back
as an energy and protein source. This is highly inefficient. Fat levels coming
from copra are the least heating of energy sources so appetite and weight are
maintained in this stressful time. Protein in pasture can be as low as 9-13%
where cows need 17% in this period. Copra contains 20% on a DM basis so copra
ideally balances pasture at this time.
|Summer pasture is:
|| High in fibre
||High in “Heat” production. Digesting
fibre “heats up” cows. This causes lower appetite.
||Low in protein. Maybe 12-13% only. Cows need
||Low in energy, digestibility and moisture.
||High in protein and by-pass protein
||High in energy and digestibility
||High in “low heat” oil or fat. Keeps
||High in minerals, phosphorus, magnesium.
||High in dry matter content.
Cows have a major tendency to lose weight in this period due to poor diet quality
and quantity made worse by reduced appetite. High temperature and humid conditions
will often cause serious losses in production and cow weight at this time.
Copra has been used with grass, cereal and maize silage in this period to
carry cows and production through.
Diets using copra, grains, by-products, molasses, salt, urea and preserved
supplements have been used very successfully to improve summer or mid and late
Better summer management is vital to increasing the days in milk from 230
to 270 days or better. Cows do not have to put on so much weight and hence pasture
cover is not sacrificed trying to achieve both extra days in milk and weight
gain at the same time.
Providing cows with a more consistent diet throughout lactation is essential
to improving per cow performance in New Zealand. Extra effort and skill is required
to do this.
Weight Management of Young Cows especially in Summer.
First and second calvers are being asked to gain excessive capital or mature
weight in their first and second lactation. Much of this weight should have
been gained before first calving ever began. It is critical to support these
younger cows at all stages of lactation but especially during summer when low
protein pasture will dramatically affect their growth potential, future performance
and even survival in the herd.
Reproductive performance can be affected through this period if environmental
and dietary requirements are not met or managed adequately.