Nutritionist e-Network - April 2011

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April 15, 2011
Welcome to the Nutritionist e-Network, published by Dairy Herd Management® magazine. This issue is sponsored by Chr. Hansen Animal Health & Nutrition, Elanco Animal Health, JAY-LOR, Kemin Industries, Lallemand Animal Nutrition, Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition, Novus International, Quali Tech and Soy Best.

  Sponsored by Lallemand Animal Nutrition


Don't overlook fatty acids
Fatty acids are an over-looked nutrient for most classes of livestock, with no requirements listed in the current U.S. requirements for dairy cattle. But new research is shedding the light on just how important fatty acids might be, in particular for calves. For the first time in calves, research has measured how nutrition has influenced the immune system. In a research project conducted at the Nurture Research Center of Provimi North America, calves fed a milk replacer high in linoleic acid from soy oil and soy lecithin had greater fevers after a Pasteurella vaccine than calves fed an all animal fat milk replacer. Statistically, their average daily gain (ADG) was not changed, but it tended to be lower than calves not fed an all animal fat milk replacer. Calf ADG, starter intake, feed efficiency, hip width change and serum titers to bovine viral diarrhea and parainfluenza 3 vaccines were greater in calves fed a milk replacer with NeoTec4, a blend of butyric acid, medium chain fatty acids and linolenic acid. The rectal temperature increase after a Pasteurella vaccine was greater in calves fed the high linoleic acid diet compared with those fed all animal fat and was less in calves fed NeoTec4. While fatty acid information in dairy cattle may have been limited until now, there is a wealth of research with fatty acids for humans including requirements for infants and guidelines for consumption by adults. In humans, specific fatty acids can alter metabolic functions such as immune functions (such as stimulating or reducing inflammation and altering titers to vaccines), alter gut absorptive tissue, influence reproduction, and act as natural anti-bacterials or anti-virals. In animals, specific fatty acids with metabolic properties include butyrate (a short chain fatty acid), a group called medium chain fatty acids, and linoleic and linolenic acids (the two essential fatty acids in the diet). Linoleic acid (C18:2) is an essential fatty acid that causes inflammation and is naturally high in milk replacer and starter/grower diets. It is high in soy and corn. Linolenic acid (C18:3), an essential fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory and other immune-related properties and is very low in many common feeds. Additionally, short and medium chain fatty acids (which have immune related and gut development properties) are low in most feeds. NeoTec4 is a cost-effective blend of specific fatty acids. There are 17 peer-reviewed experiments in dairy calves published and eight journal articles showing the effectiveness of these fatty acids and this specific blend in milk replacers and starter and grower feeds. The take-home message is this: Calf milk replacers are naturally high in linoleic acid and naturally low in short and medium chain fatty acids and linolenic acid. Adding more linoleic acid, an inflammatory fatty acid, was not beneficial. However, adding short, medium, and linolenic acid was beneficial to increase calf ADG, starter intake, feed efficiency, hip width change, serum titers to typical vaccines, and reduce fever.


 Sponsored by Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition

Q: What feed cost decisions should nutritionists focus on when everything is high?

The following answer is provided by Gary Sipiorski, dairy development manager at the Vita Plus Corp.

A: As every dairy nutritionist knows, the March 2011 Class III milk price closed at $19.40. Some may not have realized yet that $19.40 milk is not what $19.40 milk used to be when looking at the larger numbers on all of the bills to be paid on a dairy.
    To add another challenge at this point, the future months' Class III is lower at this time. I had a discussion the other day with a Western dairy producer who told me, "Every feedstuff I buy cost me $300. My cottonseed is $300; corn cost me $300, and soybean meal is higher. (Continue by clicking below)

[To read the rest of Gary Sipiorski's answer or leave a comment, click here]
 Sponsored by Soy Best

Soy Best

Prices reported the week of April 11-14 by professional dairy nutritionists
or commodity brokers in five key dairy regions.

fine ground or

Soybean meal


alfalfa hay
(170-185 RFV)

  Truckload quantities delivered to the dairy ($/ton)

Eastern Wisconsin

$280a $352 $310-$320 $210

SE Pennsylvania

$298a $404c $290 $215

Texas Panhandle

$295a $378 $290 $265

Southern Idaho

$317a $393 $360 $230-$250
(if you can find it)

Central California

$322b $382d $380-$387 $310-$320
a Fine ground shelled corn
Steam-rolled or steam-flaked corn

c 47.5 percent soybean meal
46 percent soybean meal
Sponsored by Quali Tech

Travel allows him to build connections around the world

Editor's note: This Practice Builder is from Rick Lundquist, independent nutrition and management consultant based in Duluth, Minn.

Rick Lundquist travels all over the U.S. to meet with clients. Locations include the Upper Midwest, the Southeast, Arizona, Oklahoma, and other places. He tries to visit each client on a monthly basis.
    Often, clients ask him what's happening in other areas. For instance, clients in Arizona will ask him what's happening in the Upper Midwest with regard to milk prices and feed prices. Recently, feed prices have been on everyone's mind. "Hay prices are going up like crazy," he says. Currently, he is helping some clients in the Southeast scout out alfalfa hay in markets as far away as Oklahoma and Kansas. Along those lines, he has also introduced clients in one part of the country to by-product feeds that are used in another part of the country — and even the world, since he also has clients overseas.
     A couple of other things:
  • Having clients across the U.S. gives Lundquist the opportunity to have clients travel with him on occasion. "For instance, this month I'm taking one of my clients from Florida and he's going to come and ride with me in Arizona," he says.
  • When he attends conferences, he realizes that producers don't always have the same opportunity, so he reports back to them what he has learned.
FEED UPDATE    A look at feed inputs, including quality and availability.
 Sponsored by Novus International

Remind producers that corn is still a good buy

Increasing corn prices and lowering milk prices are causing dairy producers to think twice about what they feed their cows this spring.
    "Dairy farmers can't afford to take cows off feed now because it takes too long to bring them back into full production," said Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois professor of animal sciences emeritus. "The good news is that dairy cattle have an advantage because they can utilize forages and byproduct feeds. The bad news is that the price of corn increases the price of alternatives as well."
    Alternative feedstuffs such as distillers grains, corn gluten, fuzzy cottonseed, alfalfa and hay may not be corn, but they are all in the same market, Hutjens added. As nutrient prices go up in starch and energy, it drives the other prices up as well.
    "Producers need to look at how much corn they should be feeding," Hutjens said. "For a dairy cow, 24 to 26 percent starch is the typical level. Producers can get that from hominy, corn silage or shelled corn. So the question becomes what are the more economical sources available at the farm?"
    As prices go up, sugar becomes an alternative that can feed rumen bacteria (target 4 to 6 percent in the total ration dry matter). Another source is soluble fiber, or fiber that the rumen microbes can break down in the rumen (target 10 to 12 percent in the total ration dry matter).
     "The bottom line that our producers need to realize is that you can't cheat the bacteria — they don't read the farm magazines and know the price of corn went up to $7.60," Hutjens said. "They just know they need certain carbon structures in the rumen to produce. We never want to slow them down. As a result, they produce 80 percent of the cow's energy and 60 percent of her amino acids. Make sure rumen microbes are maxed out even if the price of corn appears to be high."
    Corn is still a good buy for producers today, Hutjens said. Sesame, a software program developed by Ohio State University, evaluates 30 different feedstuffs in the Midwest. It compares energy, protein forms and fiber sources to come up with a commonality that says what the feedstuff is worth.
    "Believe it or not, corn is underpriced," he said. "We can afford to pay more than we are now when you look at all the other energy sources available. We can pay over $8 a bushel, and it's still a better buy than looking at most alternative feedstuffs, with the exception of corn silage and distillers grains."
    Corn distillers grains need to be on the radar screen for dairy producers along with corn gluten feed, Hutjens said. Both of these feedstuffs are underpriced at this point. In fact, distillers grain is underpriced by nearly $100/ton. "The big question producers want answered is how much distillers grain can they feed," he said. "I typically advise five pounds of distillers grains dry matter per cow per day. It ends up being about 10 percent of the ration, and that prices out very economically."
    While the price of corn is projected to remain very high through the summer months, the price of milk is projected to fall through the end of the calendar year. Hutjens suggests using Sesame to find the breakeven price at full feed.
    "High-producing cows fed correctly will make money in 2011 with $7+ bushel corn," he said.

CASE STUDY: Molasses mayhem
 Sponsored by JAY-LOR

Editor's note: The following information was provided by Mike DeGroot and Jordan Van Grouw, of DeGroot Dairy Consulting in Visalia, Calif.

One of the dairies that Mike DeGroot and Jordan Van Grouw work with started having problems with its fresh pen. They had worked with this particular dairy for several years and all the sudden fresh cows started calving in with metritis, displaced abomasums and several other problems. At this particular dairy, the heifers and cows were combined in the close-up and fresh-pen.
    When the dairy started having these issues, DeGroot and Van Grouw checked every possible thing that could be causing the problem, but could find nothing that had changed in terms of management or facilities. The grain mix hadn't changed, cow comfort was good, and there was no overcrowding. Nothing was throwing up red flags, says DeGroot.
    Then, DeGroot and Van Grouw noticed one day that the fresh heifers were really going after the molasses lick. This seemed odd to the pair, so they did some digging.
    It turns out that the company that supplied the molasses lick to this dairy had made a switch in the product formulation and did not tell the dairy.
    The close-up pen was supposed to be receiving a molasses lick that had a very low DCAD level and the fresh-cow pen was supposed to be receiving a molasses lick that had a very high DCAD level.
    Read the full story.

 Sponsored by Chr. Hansen Animal Health & Nutrition
Chr. Hansen

Mid-South Ruminant Nutrition Conference
April 20-21 at the Embassy Suites at DFW International Airport in Grapevine, Texas. For more information, contact Ellen Jordan at

Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference
April 20-21 at the Grand Wayne Center in Ft. Wayne, Ind.
More information.

California Animal Nutrition Conference

May 4-5 at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, Fresno, Calif. More information.

Alltech 27th Annual International Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium
May 22-25 at the Lexington Convention Center, Lexington, Ky. More information.

Four-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference
June 8-9 at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa. For more information, contact Marcia Endres at or (612) 624-5391.

Joint annual meeting of the American Dairy Science Association and the American Society of Animal Science
July 10-14 in New Orleans. More information.

Submit an upcoming event (all events listing subject to approval).

 Sponsored by Kemin Industries

Starch degradability of the 2010 corn crop

Editor's note: The following information was provided by Dairyland Laboratories in Arcadia, WIs.

It's no secret that the starch degradability of ensiled grains changes over time. As grains mature, the starch molecules are encapsulated in a prolamin-protein matrix that limits the ability of rumen microbes to digest the starch. This reduces the amount of VFAs and microbial protein produced from each pound of grain. Fortunately, the lactic and acetic acids produced during the ensiling process will dissolve prolamin over time, leaving the starch in a more degradable form.
    Intuitively, nutritionists have known for years that high-moisture corn and corn silage change over time, but until recently there has not been a reliable method for quantifying this change. Now, the development of a 7-hour in vitro starch degradability test has provided us with more information about when and how much starch degradability changes throughout the year.
    The chart below shows the results of over 11,000 corn silage samples analyzed by Dairyland Laboratories Inc. from the 2010 harvest season. Clearly, starch degradability and protein solubility have increased over time. The implications of this change can be dramatic. Consider the increased amount of rumen degradable starch from the average corn silage sample since September. If these degradabilities were applied to all of the starch in a 28 percent starch ration at 50 pounds of dry matter intake, the amount of rumen degradable starch would have increased from 9.8 to 11 pounds. Or, put another way, we could be feeding 1.7 pounds less corn in March and the rumen would be experiencing the same amount of available starch.
    7-hour in vitro starch degradability (IVSD 7hr) is just one of the many tools that nutritionists have available to help maximize the efficiency of starch use in dairy rations. It is important to remember that this test only speaks to the chemical properties of starch and is best used in conjunction with particle size evaluation. To apply these results on a dairy farm, it is helpful to establish a baseline value at harvest to make adjustments as the values increase throughout the winter months.

Corn silage averages for the 2010 crop year (Dairyland Laboratories Inc.)

Monthly Average N

as % of CP

Starch IVSD as %
of starch
IVSD 7-hr.
Sept. 10 2390 25% 34% 78% Low
Oct. 10 2065 29% 32% 80% Medium
Nov. 10 1008 32% 34% 82% Medium
Dec. 10 1198 42% 32% 85% Medium
Jan. 11 1840 43% 33% 86% Medium
Feb. 11 1348 47% 34% 87% High
March 11 1598 48% 33% 88% High

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