Editor's note: The following article was published on the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute website.

Dairy ration formulation and evaluation models that predict performance based on animal, environmental, and nutritional inputs are commonly used in the dairy industry.

Use of sophisticated models can allow nutritionists to formulate rations to achieve higher levels of milk and milk component production while managing feed costs. However, no model is perfect, so updates and improvemen

ts are necessary to keep models current and relevant to modern cows and production systems. Updates to the CNCPS model have been recently released and a new dairy NRC committee is being formed to update the Dairy NRC model.

These advancements in modeling are exciting and necessary to advance the dairy industry, but all models have limitations.

Why? Nutrition accounts for only part of the factors that explain milk and milk component yields. Several other factors including reproduction, genetics, environment, and management also have big impacts on milk and milk component production.

The CNCPS modeling group has made improvements to the CNCPS model to account for some of the non-nutritional factors, but more work is needed.

So, how much of the variation in milk yield is attributed to nutrition and what portion is due to all of the other factors? Read the full story here.

Sarah was a post-doctoral research associate at Miner Institute from September 2008 to June 2010. She works as a Dairy R&D nutritionist with Hubbard Feeds, Inc. She works out of her home office in Des Moines, IA and travels through all of Hubbard territory.