Nutritionist e-Network - April 2013

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April 19, 2013
Diamond V
Welcome to the Nutritionist e-Network, published by Dairy Herd Management® magazine. This issue is sponsored by Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition Group, Danisco, Diamond V, Lallemand Animal Nutrition, Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition, Novus International and Soy Best.

Sponsored by Lallemand Animal Nutrition

Dried distillers grains are environmentally friendly
Dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) have become an important feed source in recent years. Besides their nutritional value, it appears that they have the potential to mitigate or reduce methane emissions from cows. Researchers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Universite Laval in Quebec, Canada, studied this issue and reported their findings in the April 2013 issue of the Journal of Dairy Science. “Enteric CH4 production (g/d) was reduced when increasing proportions of DDGS were incorporated in the diet of dairy cows at the expense of corn and soybean meal,” they wrote. In fact, methane production was decreased by up to 14 percent at the highest inclusion rate (30 percent of dietary dry matter). Meanwhile, dry matter intake and milk yield responded positively to increasing DDGS proportions in the diet. Read the abstract.

When adding hay or straw for effective fiber, chop forage enough to minimize sorting
Penn State research suggests that when low-quality forage is added to the diet to achieve extra chewing or rumination, chopping it fine enough to minimize sorting will help cows to consume the amount of forage desired and still provide physically effective fiber. Results of Penn State research into the effects of chop length when feeding low quality hay or straw to late-lactation or dry cows were recently published in the journal Animal. The paper describes two experiments that investigated rumen fermentation, sorting behavior, and chewing activity of cows; in this case cows with low overall energy requirements. In both experiments, the diets provided a similar amount of physically effective fiber even though the forage particle length was very different. In the first experiment, cows averaged 434 days in milk and were fed a diet of 50% first-cutting orchard grass hay and 50% grain. Hay was chopped to three different lengths: short (0.21 ± 0.15 in), medium (0.35 ± 0.17 in), or long (3.07 ± 0.16 in). In the second experiment, the same cows, which were now dry, were fed a diet of 75% oat straw and 25% grain. Grain was top-dressed and molasses was added to improve palatability of the straw. Straw was chopped to three different lengths: short (0.40 ± 0.11 in), medium (0.97 ± 0.15 in), or long (3.16 ± 0.14 in). Despite the wide range in the length of forage particles, no differences were observed in chewing activity, rumen pH, or rumen fill in either experiment. However, as the particle length of the diet increased, cows sorted against longer particles. These results suggest that when low-quality forage is added to the diet to achieve extra chewing or rumination for various reasons, chopping it fine enough to minimize sorting will help cows to consume the amount of forage desired as determined from the ration formulation and still produce the desired outcome of providing more physically effective fiber to the ration. (This summary came from the Penn State Extension Dairy Digest.)


Sponsored by Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition

Q: What are the important dairy feeding and management considerations during heat stress?

The following answer is provided by Donna M. Amaral-Phillips, extension dairy specialist at the University of Kentucky.

A: Heat stress results in decreased milk production, reproductive performance, and immune function in both milking and dry dairy cows. Both environmental temperature and humidity impact the amount of heat stress that dairy cows undergo.

Environmental management
To maintain normal metabolism, a cow’s core body temperature needs to remain relatively constant.

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

Soy Best

Prices reported the week of April 15-18 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

$255a $420 $333-$345 $300

SE Pennsylvania

NA NA $300 NA

Texas Panhandle

NA $441 $345 NA

Southern Idaho

$293a $456 $365 $250 (if you can find it)

Central California

$292b $466 $385 NA
a Fine ground shelled corn
b Steam-rolled or steam-flaked corn
c 46 percent to 48 percent soybean meal
d 47.5 percent soybean meal

PRACTICE BUILDER: An important quality for any nutritionist
Sponsored by Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition Group

Arm & Hammer

What does Michigan dairy producer Ken Nobis appreciate the most about his nutritionist?
     Common sense.
     “If he’s seen a practical application work time after time, he doesn’t need to see the scientific proof,” Nobis said. Not to deny scientific proof, but the general inclination to try something can be formed upon one’s own experience and observations.
     For example, five to eight years ago, when people started to put straw in their dry-cow rations, some of the Ph.D nutritionists in the academic community scoffed, Nobis recalls. But Nobis’ nutritionist saw it work on other farms and agreed to try it at Nobis’ farm, as well.
     Nobis’ nutritionist works with enough farms that he has this kind of confidence.
     Another thing that Nobis appreciates: The nutritionist’s bottom-line perspective.
     A feed additive may generate an extra 2 pounds of milk, but that 2-pound advantage may be negated by the cost, Nobis points out. So, it takes a good nutritionist to determine the final bottom-line impact.
    Nobis runs a 1,050-cow operation in St. John’s, Mich.
FEED UPDATE: Weather stalls corn planting progress
Sponsored by Novus International


April showers don’t just bring May flowers. They also slow corn planting.
     The USDA’s Crop Progress report, released on Monday, showed that producers across many states are now making up for lost time. The report indicated that 2 percent of the nation’s corn has been planted.
     The difference between this year and last is staggering. By this time in 2012, 16 percent of the country’s corn crop was already in the ground.
     Some states are making more progress than others. Texas, who started planting weeks ago, is now at 56 percent complete. This is on-par with the state’s five-year average and 2 percentage points above their 2012 pace. North Carolina (28 percent) and Tennessee (11 percent) also lead the nation’s top corn-producing states in planting.
     Nine states — Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin — have yet to report any progress.
     View the report.
     Though rain and snow may have slowed corn planting, the moisture is welcome, especially in the western Corn Belt. Reuters reports that between 2 and 6 inches of rain is needed in Kansas to bring soil moisture up to normal, while another 6 to 10 inches is needed in Nebraska. The wet weather pattern is expected to linger.

CASE STUDY: Get back to basics
Sponsored by Danisco

The following case study was handled by Fernando Vazquez while he was an independent dairy nutritionist in the Southwest. He now serves as a dairy nutritionist consultant for Standard Dairy Consultants in the I-29 corridor.

The owners of a 2,500-cow dairy in the Southwest were frustrated over low milk production.
     The herd average was only about 68 pounds. On top of that, the butterfat percentage was low and many of the fresh cows were experiencing health problems.
     So, they called in a new nutritionist, Fernando Vazquez.
     On his first visit, Vazquez found a number of problems:
  • Four months had passed since the last forage analysis. It was done by the previous nutritionist, who was now gone, and not having a current analysis meant that no one had a good idea what was being fed at that point.
  • The cows were eating less than what the ration called for.
  • There were some questions whether the ration on paper was the one actually being delivered. Vazquez said he discovered some clerical errors, suggesting that several people along the way were not getting the right ration to the cows.
     Read the full story.


Dairy Herd

Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference
April 23-24 at the Grand Wayne Center in Ft. Wayne, Ind. More information.

Alltech 29th Annual International Symposium
May 19-22 at the Lexington Convention Center, Lexington, Ky. More information.

Four-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference
June 12-13, Dubuque, Iowa.

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

WHAT'S NEW IN THE LAB: Find a forage lab and stick with it

Forage testing equipment, methods and calibrations can vary from lab to lab. That means results can vary, too.
     “Variation between labs doesn’t necessarily mean that one lab is right and the other is wrong,” says Chris Dschaak, dairy nutritionist with Mycogen Seeds. “But it is important to be aware of the potential for differences and to stick with one source of lab data when making ration decisions.”
     As an example, Mycogen Seeds recently sent samples from the same brown midrib (BMR) corn silage pile to five different labs and found that dry matter readings varied from 27.7 percent to 31.2 percent, and Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF) content ranged from 46.6 percent to 58.4 percent.
     Dairy producers should establish a relationship with one lab to ensure consistent results, Dschaak advises. “Seek the advice of your herd nutritionist to identify a lab that meets your needs,” he says. Dschaak suggests asking these questions before selecting a lab:


  • Is the lab certified by the National Forage Testing Association?
  • Does the lab do its own wet chemistry testing to develop near infrared reflectance spectroscopy calibration equations?
  • How frequently does the lab calibrate its NIRS equipment and monitor accuracy of calculations?
  • How long does it take to get results?
  • What are the lab’s quality-control procedures?
Regardless of the lab, Dschaak stresses the importance of ongoing communication.
     “If you see something on a report that you don’t understand, ask your nutritionist or lab representative to explain it,” he says

Dairy Herd


Copyright 2013 Vance Publishing Corporation, 400 Knightsbridge Pkwy.,
Lincolnshire, IL 60069.
All Rights Reserved.

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