‘This research is timely in responding to the need for farmers to reduce the use of corn in feed rations. Corn prices have reached all-time highs in recent years and although they may trend downward due to high yields in 2013, prices are expected to remain higher than historical averages,’ said Miner Institute president Dr. Rick Grant.
Grant adds that a lower corn/starch diet does not compromise milk production.
‘Research by Cornell and Miner Institute has shown that high milk production can be obtained with lower dietary starch as long as rations are properly formulated. A lower starch diet can be successfully fed to early to mid-lactation cows, dry cow and fresh cows without compromising any aspect of performance,’ Grant said.
The search for acceptable corn grain substitutes goes beyond simply increasing the dairy ration with grass/legume forage grown on regional farms.
‘Northern New York weather and growing conditions can create a major constraint in assuring high quality forage harvest each year. Milk production suffers if the increased forage fed to cows is not of high quality and increases the real cost of production in spite of reducing the use of corn grain, thus we are in search of acceptable non-forage alternatives and the proper formulation of rations using those substitutes,’ Grant said.
Non-forage sources of fiber (NFFS) and fermentable carbohydrates for dairy rations include soybean hulls, beet pulp, and wheat midds.
With the NNYADP-funding, Miner Institute is collaborating with Northeast Ag and Feed Alliance feed industry representatives to look at regional factors influencing dairy ration development. For example, large storage facilities along the St. Lawrence River offer citrus pulp, hominy, and whole cottonseed supplies as potential dairy diet sources.
The NNYADP dairy diet corn substitute project researchers are also evaluating sources of distiller and wet brewer grains, and malt sprouts produced in Quebec, gluten feed produced in Ontario, and New England bakery by-products.
The first survey of the project will identify the current use of corn substitutes in NNY dairy herd diets over the past five years, what products are used as substitutes and the sources of those substitute products. The data will be analyzed to determine the most economically-feasible products.
The research team will analyze samples of the most economically-feasible products to determine how well their nutrient composition will work in developing dairy cow rations to support strong milk production.