Nutritionist e-Network - August 2011

 Resize text         Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

Trouble viewing this email? Click here
Aug. 19, 2011
Welcome to the Nutritionist e-Network, published by Dairy Herd Management® magazine. This issue is sponsored by Adisseo, BASF, Chr. Hansen Animal Health & Nutrition, Elanco Animal Health, Kemin Industries, Lallemand Animal Nutrition, Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition, Novus International, Quali Tech and Soy Best.

  Sponsored by Lallemand Animal Nutrition


Molasses can boost milkfat
At a time when many people are leaving money on the table when it comes to butterfat depression, researchers at Kansas State University have come up with a possible new strategy: molasses. In a research study, the replacement of up to 5 percent of the corn grains with molasses on a dry-matter basis helped offset some of the milkfat depression that might have occurred had none of the corn been replaced and the cows were left with a ration that was extremely high in energy. To that extent, it acted like an insurance policy. When molasses was added, the cows’ milkfat content was about 10 percent higher than control cows, and their milkfat yield (kilograms/day) was about 5 percent higher. The yield advantage wasn’t quite as dramatic as milkfat content or percentage, because total milk yield was down slightly with the experimental diets. And, protein yield was down in one of the two trials. In this case — with protein down in one trial, but not in another — the effect of molasses on protein was inconclusive, says one of the lead researchers, Barry Bradford, of Kansas State University. But, this particular study focused on milkfat and the possible role molasses can have in reducing milkfat depression. Bradford says molasses has the potential to help dairy farmers for a couple of reasons: (1) It alters the biohydrogenation pathway in the rumen to promote milkfat production and (2) It makes the ration a little wetter and stickier, which helps bind large and small particles together and keep cows from sorting through the ration. The research was reported in the August edition of the Journal of Dairy Science. Read the abstact.

Economics of intensified feeding
Intensified feeding of calves has gained a lot of interest. In a research experiment at Michigan State University, Holstein heifer calves were randomly assigned to one of two dietary treatments, with an average of 40 head per treatment. Treatments continued from 2 days of age until weaning at 42 days of age. The first treatment was a conventional diet that consisted of a standard milk replacer (21.5 percent crude protein and 21.5 percent fat), fed at 1.2 percent of body weight on a dry matter basis and starter grain (19.9 percent crude protein) to attain about 1 pound of daily gain. The intensive diet consisted of a high-protein milk replacer (30.6 percent crude protein, 16.1 percent fat), fed at 2.1 percent of body weight on a dry matter basis and starter grain (24.3 percent crude protein) to achieve 1.5 pounds of daily gain. All calves were completely weaned at 42 days of age and kept in hutches to monitor individual starter consumption in the early post-weaning period. Starting from 8 weeks of age, heifers on both treatments were fed and managed similarly for the duration of the study. Body weight and skeletal measurements were taken weekly until 8 weeks of age, and once every 4 weeks thereafter until calving. Calves consuming the intensive diet were heavier, taller, and wider at weaning. The difference in withers height and hip width was carried over into the early post-weaning period, but a body-weight difference was no longer evident by 12 weeks of age. Heifers fed the high-energy and protein diet were 15 days younger at conception and 14 days younger at calving than heifers fed the conventional diet. Preweaning costs were higher for heifers fed the intensive diet. However, total costs measured through first lactation were not different. Researchers conclude that intensified feeding of calves can be used to decrease age at first calving without negatively affecting milk yield or economics. This research was published in the July 2011 Journal of Dairy Science. See the abstract.


 Sponsored by Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition

Q: With very high corn prices, what lactating cow feeding program strategies and alternatives might be attainable?

The following answer was provided by Al Kertz, Dairy Field Technical Service with Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition.

A: The first strategy is always related to forage quality and quantity. Forage cost and availability are baselines that must be initially established. If forage quality is high, and NDF digestibility is the best single indicator of that quality, then forage quantity and concentration in the total mixed ration (TMR) can be maximized. While 60 percent forage in the TMR on a dry matter basis has generally been considered on the high side, some dairies with very high quality forages have been able to push that to 70 to 75 percent. When forage NDF digestibility is high, rate of rumen digestibility, lesser rumen fill, and lower rumen residence time allow for higher dry matter intake (DMI) than might normally be expected with lower-quality forages.
    Increasing energy density and energy intake can be more challenging with higher-forage diets. An early lactation trial beginning at 12 days in milk and lasting 15 weeks looked at two levels of forage (40 and 60 percent), and with and without a fat supplement (Weiss, W. P. and J. M. Pinos-Rodriguez. 2009. J. Dairy Sci. 92:6144-6155.) There were 13 Holstein cows and five first-calf heifers per treatment, and treatments were either 40 or 60 percent forage (2/3 corn silage 1/3 alfalfa silage blend) and with or without 2.25 percent of the fat supplement.
(Continue by clicking below)

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

Soy Best

Prices reported the week of Aug. 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

$275a $348c $443-$460 $250

SE Pennsylvania

$327a $410d $440 $275

Texas Panhandle

$305a $395 $410 $325

Southern Idaho

$316a $398 $490 $250

Central California

NA NA $500 $290
a Fine ground shelled corn
Steam-rolled or steam-flaked corn

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

46 percent soybean meal
Sponsored by Quali Tech

Keep client goals in mind

Editor's note: The following Practice Builder was contributed by Merrill May, dairy nutritionist from Amarillo, Texas.

I used to live in the Northeast where I worked with several different styles of dairy operations: large farms where the owners had a management role and many employees, medium-sized operations where the owners had just a few employees, and smaller dairies where family members did all or most of the work themselves.
     Early in my career, one of the dairies I worked with was a husband-and-wife team with one employee. The husband and wife worked long hours and never had any time off. We eventually became good friends, and I decided I needed to help them get some more time off, so I offered suggestions such as custom heifer-growers, custom forage-choppers, even a relief milker who could milk while they took a vacation. However, they never seriously considered any of these options. You see, this dairy took a lot of pride in the fact that they were extremely self-sufficient. Eventually, I realized my suggestions weren’t helping them with their business plan, so I tried to focus on opportunities that would help them. We went to a single-group TMR to help minimize mixing time and simplified their heifer diets; we scheduled team meetings during low times, and we did a lot more planning with their forage program so that we knew what feed we would be going to and when the changes would be occurring.
     Based on these types of experiences, I try to remember that many of my clients have different goals for their businesses, so I need to spend a lot of time trying to understand what those may be.
     One of the quickest ways to lose rapport with clients is to push them in directions they don't want to go with their business and/or fail to help them accomplish their goals. It's great to form lasting friendships with some of your clients, but when we are working together, I need to treat them as a client first. Most people tend to take advantage of their friends in various ways, and this is counterproductive to supporting a client to the best of your ability.
     Also, I look for opportunities to meet clients outside of their dairy, such as at industry meetings or seminars, because it provides an opportunity to interact on a different level.
     But, most of all, I always keep in mind that it's not my dairy, it's theirs. I'm responsible for helping them achieve the goals that they have for their business, not the goals that I have for their business.

FEED UPDATE    A look at feed inputs, including quality and availability.
 Sponsored by Novus International

Soy Best

Algae the next cattle feed

Algae has drawn a lot of attention lately. Its potential for the biofuels industry, as well as the dairy industry, is bright.
     A dairy farm in Modesto, Calif., is looking at algae as a potential mechanism to reduce emissions from its anaerobic digester.
    If the algae were to be cultivated for biofuels, significant amounts of an algae by-product would result. The livestock industry is the attractive option for this by-product. A study from Texas A&M recently looked at the nutritive value of algae. Researchers concluded that future nutritive evaluations of algae and the resulting by-product should focus on its value as a source of nitrogen in ruminant diets. Their findings are presented in this abstract from the American Dairy Science Association annual meeting.
     In the September 2010 issue of the Nutritionist e-Network, we shared research from Virginia Tech that indicated algae might be a potential source of omega-3 fatty acids.
     More recently, PetroAlgae, a renewable energy company, released a study comparing an algae by-product to 17.5 percent protein alfalfa. The six-week study conducted at the University of Minnesota shows promising results. The study indicates that the algae did as well as alfalfa in dairy cattle diets.

CASE STUDY: When free-choice isn’t free-choice
 Sponsored by BASF
Editor's note: The following case was handled by Scott Crandell, dairy nutritionist in Mifflinburg, Pa.

An 800-cow dairy in Maryland was having a problem with displaced abomasums or DAs. Many of the cows developed the problem, including a fair number of first-calf heifers. "It was a very high percentage," recalls the farm's nutritionist, Scott Crandell.
    The owners of the farm asked Crandell to look at the pre-partum transition ration. The TMR consisted of corn silage, grain mix, a little bit of haylage, and it was formulated to provide 4 pounds of hay per cow per day. The cows also had access to hay on a free-choice basis.
    Another person was doing the dry-cow rations for the farm, so Crandell was there to provide an independent review. He found nothing wrong with the ration in terms of how it was being formulated and delivered to the cows. And, the cows' body condition was adequate.
    Crandell suspected all along that it had to do with the cows' environment or eating activity.
    Upon further investigation, the free-choice hay didn't seem to be very "free-choice." The round bales were wrapped so tight that the cows were having a hard time tearing them apart. The hay feeder wasn't well-designed, in Crandell's opinion. And, there weren't any cows around the feeder, which was another red flag.
    Read the full story.

Sponsored by Adisseo

Do you balance for amino acids when formulating feed?
  • Yes
  • No

Do you use supplemental amino acids when balancing for amino acids?
  • Yes
  • No

Which supplemental amino acids do you use?
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Lysine and Methionine

Tell Us What You Think responses will appear in the next edition of this newsletter.

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

Minnesota Nutrition Conference
Sept. 20-21 at the Holiday Inn, Owatonna, Minn. More information.

Cornell Nutrition Conference for Feed Manufacturers
Oct. 18-20 at the Doubletree Hotel Syracuse, East Syracuse, N.Y. More information.

Penn State Dairy Cattle Nutrition Workshop
Nov. 9-10 at the Holiday Inn, Grantville, Pa. More information.

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

 Sponsored by Kemin Industries

Into the ether ... extract

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

Whether the expression "into the ether" refers to vanishing into outer space or the mysterious area just beyond the computer screen, it's an ambiguous phrase that leaves many people confused as to just what the heck the "ether" really is. In dairy nutrition, we have a similarly ambiguous analysis called Ether Extract (EE) which has been used to approximate the fat content of feedstuffs since about 1860.
    The problem with EE is that it contains not only fatty acids, but other ether soluble components like glycerol, urea, water, chlorophyll, fat soluble vitamins and pigments. In fact, it's been shown that up to 50 percent of forage and 20 percent of grain EE may be non-fatty acid in nature (Palmquist, 1980). While this analysis has provided us with an inexpensive estimation of fat content for many years, the nutritional requirements of high producing cows call for more precise feed formulations than EE can provide.
     A more direct approach for measuring the fat content of feeds is to measure the total fatty acids by gas chromatography (GC). This wet chemistry technique allows nutritionists to obtain both the quantity (total fatty acids) and quality (fatty acid profile) of a feedstuff in one analysis. In addition, NIR calibrations based on this technique have about 40 percent less error than calibrations for Ether Extract fat.
     Currently, NIR calibrations are only available for the "total fatty acids," but a complete profile by gas chromatography is available for around $35. This includes the total, as well as the proportions of 24 individual fatty acids, and a breakdown of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated and rumen unsaturated fatty acids:
    The ability to test any type of feedstuff by GC means that this is also a great way to troubleshoot milkfat depression by testing the complete TMR.
     In his 2001 article in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, E.W. Hammond stated that "the invention of gas chromatography is probably the single most important event of 20th century analytical science." With increased use of this technology the dairy industry will be able to take advantage of 150 years of analytical advancement and gain some insight into the effects of fatty acids in dairy rations.

Dairy Herd Management, 10901 W 84th Terr, Suite 300, Lenexa, KS 66214
© Copyright 2011
Vance Publishing Corp. All Rights Reserved.    
Contact Editor  | Unsubscribe from this e-newsletter

Comments (0) Leave a comment 

e-Mail (required)


characters left

Biotal Forage Inoculants

"Biotal offers a range of forage inoculants proven to help win the battle to preserve feed quality and value. Call ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides