Nutritionist e-Network - April 2012

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April 20, 2012
Welcome to the Nutritionist e-Network, published by Dairy Herd Management® magazine. This issue is sponsored by Adisseo, Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition Group, Danisco, Elanco Animal Health, Lallemand Animal Nutrition, Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition, Novus International and Soy Best.

  Sponsored by Lallemand Animal Nutrition


Corn milling byproduct helps alleviate milkfat depression
A corn milling byproduct from the production of human foodstuffs is enriched with fiber and protein. That makes it a good candidate for offsetting some of the negative effects of high starch in lactating cow rations. “In some diets with high starch concentrations, substituting these products for starchy grains could eliminate negative associative effects, resulting in improved NDF digestibility, increased feed efficiency and increased milkfat concentration,” Ohio State University dairy scientist Bill Weiss writes in the April edition of the Journal of Dairy Science. When it comes to alleviating milkfat depression, the corn milling byproduct works best when it replaces some of the corn grain — not when it replaces forage and concentrate. Read the abstract.

Biofuel byproduct has potential in heifer diets
A new plant-based byproduct of biofuel production is a “viable alternative” to alfalfa meal for dairy heifers, according to research reported last month at the American Dairy Science Association Midwest meeting in Des Moines, Iowa. Researchers at the University of Minnesota fed a pelleted form of the byproduct, which is produced during production of biofuel from duckweed, to crossbred dairy heifers that were 5 to 6 months of age. Duckweed is a perennial water plant that floats on the surface of water. The trial consisted of three treatments:

  • Heifers fed the byproduct as a top-dress.
  • Heifers fed the byproduct incorporated into their total-mixed ration (TMR).
  • A control group fed a total-mixed ration with alfalfa hay.
Here are some of the results:
  • Total gain and average daily gain were similar across the three treatment groups.
  • There were no differences in pen dry matter intake across the three treatment groups.
  • Feeding time was longer for heifers fed the control diet compared to the byproduct treatment groups, but ruminating time was similar between all three treatments.
Although the byproduct is not commercially available, the researchers say it has a favorable nutrient profile for ruminants. “The most efficient application of this technology would be in arid (climates) where it is difficult to grow traditional plant protein (soy and alfalfa) used in ruminant diets,” says Noah Litherland, assistant professor of dairy nutrition at the University of Minnesota. When mixed into a TMR, the byproduct, known as Lemna Meal, also supported heifer growth rates consistent with those advocated by the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association in its Gold Standards II.

Tell us what you think!
Take the Web poll in the "Tell Us What You Think" section of this e-newsletter. The first 20 respondents win a $25 American Express gift card.


 Sponsored by Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition

Q: Which feeding strategies will become even more important in the future?

The following answer is excerpted from a presentation by Mike Hutjens, professor emeritus of dairy science at the University of Illinois, at the Western Canadian Dairy Seminar in March.

A: Here are the strategies that will become more important:

Precision feeding.
This can be defined as delivery of the same ration and form every day to every cow. Blending rations with consistent feed processing, resulting in the same physical form and nutrient content ration in each batch of feed every day, will be needed. Examples include:
  • Measuring forage quality when harvesting. NIR sensors on the chopper will capture real-time forage yield, dry matter changes and the nutrient level of the forage before it is stored.
  • Commercial forage-testing labs provide summaries of specific forages from the dairy farm over several samples and time periods.
High forage-based rations. High-forage-based rations (over 65 to 70 percent of the ration dry matter) will become economically attractive.

(Continue by clicking below)
[To read the rest of Dr. Hutjen's answer or leave a comment, click here]
Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition
 Sponsored by Soy Best

Soy Best

Prices reported the week of April 16-19 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

$234a $389c $333-$340 $250

SE Pennsylvania

$299a $438d $310 $225

Texas Panhandle

$268a $420 $340 $320

Southern Idaho

$286a $435 $370 $220
(untested price)

Central California

$275b $430 $375-$393 $278
a Fine ground shelled corn
Steam-rolled or steam-flaked corn

c 46 percent to 48 percent soybean meal
47.5 percent soybean meal

  PRACTICE BUILDER: Nutritionists, too, should pledge to do no harm
Sponsored by Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition Group

Arm & Hammer
Editor's note: This Practice Builder is from Martha Baker, dairy specialist and marketing nutritionist for Land O’Lakes Purina Feeds.

When medical doctors take the Hippocratic oath, they pledge to do no harm.
     While nutritionists have no such oath, the implied agreement is they will do no economic harm when working with dairy farmers.
     That is why it is important to know about Type 1 and Type 2 errors.
     A Type 1 error occurs when you choose to use a product or technology that has a below-breakeven return on investment. A Type 2 error, meanwhile, is not choosing to use a product or technology that has an above-breakeven return to it.
     A Type 2 error — through inaction — can be more expensive, in many cases, than a Type 1 error. But it happens, often enough, because people don’t want to change the status quo if things appear to be running smoothly. Some nutritionists are afraid that if they make a change in the ration, it could backfire on them if there is a hiccup in production or if things don’t happen soon enough.
     Yet, the fear factor in this case may be keeping the farm from making further progress.
     “A Type 2 error is something you never want to do,” says Martha Baker, dairy specialist and marketing nutritionist for Land O’Lakes Purina Feeds.
     Baker says the way to avoid Type 1 and Type 2 errors is to follow the research studies and be discerning when it appears there is solid evidence one way or the other.
     She cites the example of sodium bicarbonate. There are numerous research papers showing that sodium bicarbonate has a positive impact on milk production or components, she said.
     And, be open to new technologies.
     “There are some new technologies we don’t want to ignore just because we don’t have 20 years of research behind it,” she adds.
  FEED UPDATE: Corn planting continues at exceptional rate
Sponsored by Novus International

Farmers in the top 18 corn-producing states have once again taken advantage of the drier weather, according to the USDA’s Crop Progress report released Tuesday afternoon. With 17 percent of corn now in the ground, farmers more than doubled their corn planting progress for the second week in the row. Their exceptional pace also makes 2012 the third-fastest since 1985, just slightly behind this same week in 2004 (20 percent) and 2010 (19 percent).
     Compared to last year, when farmers struggled against the weather, the 2012 corn-planting pace is well ahead of schedule. Last year's pace didn't exceed a national average of 17 percent until mid-May.
     Tennessee now leads the states in progress, with 80 percent of corn in the ground. This is an increase of 34 percentage points from their progress reported last week, the largest increase of all the states. Kentucky also made notable gains, with 59 percent of corn planted compared to 32 percent last week.
     Ohio reported 10 percent of the corn planted. In 2011, the state was plagued by overwhelming rain and didn’t report more than 10 percent of its corn in ground until late May. This year, Ohio has had little trouble with corn planting. See how your state is progressing.

CASE STUDY: A new approach to solving butterfat depression
 Sponsored by Danisco
Editor's note: The following case study was handled by Ueli Zaugg, dairy nutritionist from Fountain Hills, Ariz.

One summer, a dairy in Arizona experienced a drop in butterfat from about 3.5 percent to as low as 3.16 percent.
     The farm was feeding barley with a fast degradability of the starch and also lots of green chop. The manure was sometimes looser than normal, which is not unusual with a lot of green chop in the diet. Metabolic disorders at freshening were minimal, and there were no increased foot problems. Breeding went well even during the summer.
     Subclinical acidosis did not appear to be a problem.
     Yet, conventional methods to solve the problem did not bring about any success. Adding oat hay or straw did not change the butterfat.
    With the help of Bill Sanchez, of the Diamond V Corp., herd nutritionist Ueli Zaugg found that taking a new look at fatty acids, especially the saturated fatty acids, could help turn the situation around.
    Read the full story.

Sponsored by Adisseo

Amino Acid Balancing, or "Precision Nutrition" as it is sometimes referred to, is becoming increasingly important in meeting feed cost economics, environmental restrictions, herd health and component development needs. In the upcoming issues of the Nutritionist e-network, a poll will be used to explore facts and opinions in this developing science.

Click on the link below to enter your answers. The first 20 respondents will win a $25 American Express gift card. Poll results will be posted in the following issue.

This month's poll questions are as follows:

What is the current producers income per cow per year?
  • $100/year
  • $200/year
  • $300/year
  • $400/year
  • Greater than $400/year

How much more annual revenue per cow can be expected by balancing diets for amino acids?
  • $100
  • $200
  • $300
  • $400
  • $500
  • $600

What does it cost annually per cow to balance for amino acids in dairy rations?
  • $0
  • $50
  • $100
  • $200
  • $300

Do you monitor Energy Corrected Milk? (28 responses)
Yes (64.3%)
No (35.7%)

What is the most important parameter to monitor to detect changes in performance? (29 responses)
Milk Volume (17.2%)
Butterfat (31.0%)
Protein (0%)
ECM (51.7%)


Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference
April 24-25 at the Grand Wayne Center in Ft. Wayne, Ind. More information.

Mid-South Ruminant Nutrition Conference

April 25-26 at the Embassy Suites at DFW International Airport in Grapevine, Texas. For more information, contact Ellen Jordan at

Four-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference
June 13-14 at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa. More information.

American Dairy Science Association Joint Annual Meeting (JAM)
July 15-19 in downtown Phoenix, Ariz. More information.

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

Dairy Herd Management
Editor’s note: The following information was provided by Dairyland Labs in Arcadia, Wis.

Starch digestion is one of the most important aspects of dairy nutrition in today’s high-producing herds. Its effects can be seen in nearly every measureable aspect of milk production, including milk volume, milk components, feed efficiency, lameness and reproduction.
     Researchers and laboratories have made many attempts to quantify the variables of starch digestion, including In Vitro and In Situ procedures, mean particle size, Degree of Starch Access, prolamin content and vitreousness. Yet, until now, there hasn’t been a commercially available analysis that integrates the major aspects of starch digestion into a single system.
     Through the use of gas production, researchers at the University of Wisconsin were able to quantify the individual effects of particle size, fermentation and endosperm type on starch digestion. They then created UW Grain 2.0 which utilizes rapid and inexpensive laboratory procedures for particle size, prolaminand ammonia.
     Perhaps the biggest breakthrough of UW Grain 2.0 is the use of ammonia nitrogen. Ammonia in ensiled corn is generated as the protein matrix which surrounds the starch molecules is broken down. This makes ammonia a reliable marker which can distinguish between fermented and unfermented corn, as well as a marker for how much effect the ensiling process has had on starch digestibility. In general, the more intense the fermentation is, and the longer corn has been in storage, the more available the starch will be.
     Another new feature of UW Grain 2.0 is the Effective Mean Particle Size (eMPS). This calculated value takes into consideration the physical and chemical properties of your sample and says “your corn will be digested like an average dry corn which was ground to this particle size.” In other words, eMPS integrates the primary factor of mean particle size, plus a secondary chemical factor that influences starch digestibility. Other outputs of UW Grain 2.0 include starch digestion rate (kd), ruminal starch digestion (RSD), and total tract starch digestibility (TTSD).
     For more complete information about UW Grain 2.0 visit

Dairy Herd Management

Dairy Herd


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