Nutritionist e-Network - February 2011

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

Feb. 18, 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 and Soy Best.

  Sponsored by Lallemand Animal Nutrition


Nutritionists cite their biggest challenges
The most significant challenge facing dairy nutritionists today is convincing clients to maintain feed quality in light of high feed costs. That is from a Dairy Perspectives survey conducted in January by the research arm of Dairy Herd Management and this newsletter. The survey obtained valid responses from 119 nutritionists. Nearly three-fourths of the respondents (73.9 percent) mentioned the challenge of maintaining feed quality in light of high feed costs. The next biggest challenge cited was keeping up with technology and research. When asked what they and their clients are doing to address the current high-feed-cost issues, the most frequent answer cited was focusing on forage quality, with improved feed efficiency a close second.

Glycerol continues to show promise
In an experiment reported in this month's edition of the Journal of Dairy Science, researchers at Purdue University looked at the effects of glycerol, a byproduct of the biofuels industry, on feed intake, milk production, rumen volatile fatty acids and metabolic parameters in transition dairy cows. Cows were fed diets containing either high-moisture corn or glycerol from 28 days prior to calving to 56 days post-calving. Glycerol was included at 11.5 and 10.8 percent of the ration dry matter for the pre- and post-partum diets, respectively. There was no significant difference between the treatment groups in terms of feed intake, milk production and milk composition. Glycerol has good energy value, which makes it an option for replacing some of the grain in lactating-cow diets — if the economics are right. It should be noted that the glycerol used in the Purdue study was food-grade (pure) glycerol as opposed to the crude form of glycerol or glycerin that most farms would probably use. "Although crude glycerin contains mostly glycerol, chemical analysis is needed to identify the other components in the glycerol source if it is to be used as a feed," says Shawn Donkin, professor of animal science at Purdue. "If the crude glycerol also contains sodium, potassium or fat, then the contributions of these to the total diet needs to be considered," he says. "Most importantly, the level of water contained in crude glycerol must be considered and is particularly critical when pricing crude glycerol relative to corn grain or other energy-containing feeds," he adds. While this particular experiment used pure glycerol at an inclusion rate of 10.8 to 11.5 percent, the inclusion rate of crude glycerol will depend on the level of contaminants and adjustment for water content. Because crude glycerol may contain methanol and mineral salt constituents, palatability can be an issue. Read abstract.

Straw works with a limit-fed ration
If heifers are in a limit-feeding regime, they may benefit from the inclusion of straw alongside their limit-fed ration. In an experiment reported in this month's edition of the Journal of Dairy Science, researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada examined the behavioral and growth responses of dairy heifers when straw was provided with (either within or alongside) a limit-fed ration. There has been much interest in limit-feeding of heifers. However, there are some behavioral concerns, since limit-feeding reduces feeding time and increases inactive standing time. "With the inclusion of straw alongside a limit-fed ration, heifers are able to increase their feeding time (to a similar amount of time observed for heifers fed ad libitum), increase rumination, decrease inactive standing time, and maintain their average daily gain," they said. The straw ends up helping the heifers to satisfy their natural foraging behavior, which helps improve the overall welfare status of the animals. Read abstract.


 Sponsored by Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition

Q: Is there opportunity to boost milk protein production?

The following answer is provided by Laurie Winkelman and Tom Overton of Cornell University. It is excerpted from a presentation they made at the recent Cornell Nutrition Conference.

A: Protein is the most valuable milk constituent in multiple-component pricing systems, receiving the largest dollar per unit price of all the milk components. At the end of 2009, milk protein was valued at $2.88/lb, compared to $1.55/lb for milk fat. Long-term projections are for 2 percent annual increases in demand for dairy products (FAO) because of increasing worldwide demand for milk protein and whey components. The financial incentive for milk with higher protein content, as well as the growing consumer demand for milk protein, highlights the need to gain a greater understanding of nitrogen efficiency within the cow and how milk protein is synthesized within the mammary gland. The efficiency of converting dietary nitrogen into milk protein output is relatively poor in the lactating animal, between 25 to 30 percent (Bequette et al., 1998). This low level of efficiency also represents an area of opportunity for the dairy industry. Improving nitrogen efficiency within the cow will help the industry to avoid costly nitrogen loss to the environment.
    The Dairy NRC (2001) summarized available information regarding dietary influences on milk protein content and yield, with primary focus on modulation of milk protein through amino acid supplementation.


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

Soy Best

Prices reported the week of Feb. 14-17 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

$241a $370 $262-$285 $190

SE Pennsylvania

$290a $435c $255 $205

Texas Panhandle

$258a $405 $260 $190

Southern Idaho

$296a $416 $320 $195

Central California

$294b $414d $315-$329 $270-$275
(but hard to find)
a Fine ground shelled corn
Steam-rolled or steam-flaked corn

c 47.5 percent soybean meal
46 percent soybean meal

Dairy Herd Management

Spreadsheet helps keep track of prices, improves communication

Editor's note: This Practice Builder was provided by Dennis Crawley, dairy nutritionist from Nixa, Mo. He is affliated with the Compass Nutrition Inc., of Stephenville, Texas.

With the volatility in milk and feed prices in the last few years, my dairy clients regularly ask me where we can cut feed costs. Or, when a particular ingredient like corn takes a run-up in price, they ask how little can we feed and what will replace it.
    I needed a tool to help us track feed changes and accurately determine if, when we save 10 or 15 cents in ration cost, did it save money or did we lose so much milk and components that the savings actually was a cost. But the question is more complicated than what happened with milk production, milk fat, and milk protein. If dry matter intake increases or decreases, the answer changes.
    Another factor is the value of fat and protein in the milk. In the last year, the producer pay price for a pound of butter in the West Texas market ranged from $1.44 to $2.44, and from $2.05 to $2.88 for milk protein. And the month fat was at the low point, protein was at the highest value for the year.
    To deal with all of these variables, I made a spreadsheet that I update on each of my bi-weekly visits. The spreadsheet uses current production and milk components, actual dry matter intake as recorded on the farm, feed costs, and current milk and component pricing to calculate Income Over Feed Cost. If we make any ration change, whether to lower ration cost or to increase production, we have information that can help us determine if the change was profitable. I have also been able to use this spreadsheet to establish the cost in lost production when a pile of poorly processed corn silage was opened and ended up replacing well-processed corn silage in the ration.
    Last fall, when milk fat and protein were at a very high price, using Energy Corrected Milk to determine the value of higher components underestimated the real value of those components. With my spreadsheet, we were able to look at the real impact of the high components on Income Over Feed Cost.
    This spreadsheet has increased communication between me and my dairy clients and has helped them more accurately see and understand how feed changes and forage quality can affect their profitability.
FEED UPDATE    A look at feed inputs, including quality and availability.
 Sponsored by Novus International
Sign up for the next Webinar on Cow Comfort, March 18 at 3:00 p.m. EST

Cottonseed rising in price; still seen as a 'very good buy'

A bull market for cotton lint could drive 2011 cottonseed production and supplies available to dairies to levels not seen since 2007, says Tom Wedegaertner, director of cottonseed research and marketing, Cotton Incorporated. In the meantime, old crop cottonseed remains a "competitive value, despite rising prices."
    U.S. average spot prices for cottonseed fluctuated between $200 and $250 per ton in 2010, but began creeping higher toward the end of the year and closed in on $250 per ton in early 2011, according to a recent report from the National Cotton Council.
    "Competing feed prices tend to move together, and everything is moving up right now," Wedegaertner says. "When you consider $7 corn, cottonseed still is a very good buy."
    He adds that some relief may be on the horizon with more cotton acres expected in 2011.
    According to the National Cotton Council's planting intentions survey released Feb. 4, cotton is expected to reclaim more than 1.5 million acres this spring — a 14 percent increase over 2010 — and produce a crop that could net 6.5 million tons of cottonseed, up from the 6.2 million tons produced in 2010 and up sharply from 2009's 4.1 million tons.
    "Based on early predictions, and assuming good growing conditions and average seed-to-lint ratios, dairy producers could see about 4 million tons of cottonseed in 2011, compared to 3.7 million tons in 2010," Wedegaertner says.
    A boost in cottonseed supplies may not necessarily translate to lower prices in the fall, however. "Even though we're looking at huge increases, strong and steady demand from cottonseed crushers could keep new crop prices firm."
    In addition to a bullish vegetable oil market, Wedegaertner says a strong export market for cottonseed could emerge as supply grows and exchange rates remain favorable.


One of the biggest challenges that dairy nutritionists face is keeping up with new technology and research. Which of the following is your best source for this information? (Select the one that most applies.)
  • Dairy conferences
  • One-on-one discussions with other dairy nutritionists
  • Nutrition companies
  • Journal of Dairy Science
  • Other journals besides Journal of Dairy Science
  • Farm magazines

Web Poll responses will appear in the next edition of this newsletter.

Last issue's poll results
The economic crisis is affecting everyone in the dairy industry. While it's tempting to make ration changes based on the milk price and ingredient/additive costs, many dairies are "staying the course" and not changing diets too dramatically when it comes to meeting nutrient requirements for high production. Would you say that is true of your clientele? (23 responses)
A) Yes, they are basically sticking with the established ration. (82.6%)
B) No, they are deviating from the established ration by a significant amount. (17.4%)

CASE STUDY: Penny-wise, pound-foolish
 Sponsored by JAY-LOR

Editor's note: The following information was provided by Lawson Spicer, independent nutritionist with Nutri-Management Inc., in Claremont, Calif.

One of the clients that Lawson Spicer works with in the Southern California area wanted to make a ration change this past July to save some money. This 2,200-cow dairy was spending $4,000 to $5,000 on a mineral pack for its close-up pen and wanted to make a switch to save money. The mineral-pack was pellet-based and was fed at 10 pounds per head per day. It was not a very concentrated mineral package.
    This particular herd feeds no silage. The only forage fed to its lactating cows is some alfalfa hay and green chop. It's not a very high-producing herd; it averages approximately 60 pounds, but carries a decent test of 3.6 percent.
    The dry period averages approximately 65 days. Far-off cows are fed a diet of alfalfa hay, grasses, onions, almond hulls and almond shells. After 40 days in the far-off dry pen, cows are moved to a close-up pen where first-calf-heifers and multiparous cows are co-mingled in a large pen. When the cows calve, they are moved into a smaller pen adjacent to the larger close-up pen. Cows in the close-up pen are fed oat hay free-choice and the close-up mineral at 10 pounds per head per day.
    This particular herd has very few problems with milk fever, as the oat hay is tested for DCAD levels to make sure they are adequate.
    In July 2010, the herd made the decision to save money and take the pelletted mineral pack it had been feeding out of the close-up ration. In its place, the close-up cows received 5 pounds of the same grain mix the milk cows were being fed. This was done to make sure the cows received some energy in the diet.
     Read the full story.

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

Southwest Nutrition and Management Conference
Feb. 24-25 at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel and Conference Center, Tempe, Ariz. More information.

Western Canadian Dairy Seminar
March 8-11 at the Capril Hotel, Trade and Convention Centre in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. More information.

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.

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.

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

 Sponsored by Kemin Industries

Transitional intakes and refusals

Editor's note: Wade Fox, EZfeed Product Manager at DHI Computing Service Inc. in Provo, Utah, provided the following information.

I was in a recent discussion with a dairyman about low milk production and his low peak milk production. The problem appeared to be an intake problem early in lactation. In looking at his strategy for feeding, he fed to an empty bunk because he wanted an "edge" on the cattle appetite. He monitors his bunk calls by evaluating at four-hour intervals late in the day. He evaluated his bunk management report for the last month and stated that only 18 percent of the bunks were empty for four hours during the day. The problem was that it was the fresh pen that was empty for the four hours.
    If you had one or two bunks to push out daily, which would they be? The fresh pen and the close-up pen, of course. Are the feeders aware of these critical pens? Do they have target pushouts/weighbacks/refusals to shoot for? The communication and direction to feeders on intakes and pushouts for fresh and close-up pens can have a huge impact on transitional diseases and metabolic disorders and future production. Make sure that you have a system or feed program in place to address this issue on a daily basis. Bunk management is critical to the success and profitability of feed operations.
    These are typical targets in the report listed. How do your actual numbers compare?

  Dry Matter Refusal Refusal
Pen Group Pounds per head Actual % Target %
Milking* -0.92 -1.63% -1.00%
Fresh* -1.66 -3.65% -3.00%
CloseUp* -0.06 -0.23% -5.00%

Dairy Herd Management, 10901 W 84th Terr, Suite 300, Lenexa, KS 66214
© Copyright 2011
Vance Publishing Corp. All Rights Reserved.    
Contact Editor  

Comments (0) Leave a comment 

e-Mail (required)


characters left

6D Series

John Deere offers four models in its economical 6D Series Tractor lineup: the 105 horsepower 6105D, 115 horsepower 6115D; 130 ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides