Nutritionist e-Network - January 2011

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Jan. 21, 2011
Welcome to the Nutritionist e-Network, published by Dairy Herd Management® magazine. This issue is sponsored by BASF, Chr. Hansen Animal Health & Nutrition, Elanco Animal Health, JAY-LOR, Kemin Industries, Lallemand Animal Nutrition, Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition, Novus International, Prince Agri-Products and Soy Best.

  Sponsored by Lallemand Animal Nutrition


A boost from fatty acids
According to research at the University of Florida, feeding calcium salts of fatty acids during transition and breeding periods can benefit fertility and milk production. Cows that were fed calcium salts of safflower oil, a fat source rich in linoleic acid, from 30 days prepartum to 30 days postpartum and then fed calcium salts of fish oil, a fat source rich in eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids, from 30 to 160 days post-partum did particularly well. "Feeding supplements rich in linoleic acid during the transition period improved milk yield," researchers from the University of Florida wrote in this month's edition of the Journal of Dairy Science. And, pregnancy per AI was higher, as well. During the breeding period, feeding calcium salts rich in eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids from fish oil may play an important role in regulating the endometrium to support pregnancy. And, further research at the University of Florida suggests that calcium salts of fish oil can exert an anti-inflammory state in the breeding period, which minimized pregnancy losses by conceptually modulating the immune response down. It's an exciting new area where researchers are learning how to modulate immune function through nutrition. By sequencing the feeding of calcium salts, it may be possible to enhance immune function during the transition period and then dial it down during the breeding period. The researchers propose feeding diets rich in linoleic acid during the transition period, followed by eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid in the breeding period, to maximize dairy cow production and reproduction. However, the cost-benefit ratio still needs to be investigated further, acknowledges Jose Santos, veterinarian and associate professor of animal science at the University of Florida. "Particularly for the fish oils, the oils can be expensive," he says. Read abstract.

Proper storage important for dry yeast products
Storage conditions greatly influence the viability of active dry yeast products, according to research at Kansas State University. In sampling products, they found highly variable concentrations of viable cells within and across products. And, high-temperature storage was a particular problem. "Even when samples were stored in an airtight, ambient-humidity environment, the high-temperature storage condition (40 degrees C or 104 degrees F) decreased viable cell counts of (active dry yeast) products by approximately 90 percent per month," they wrote. In this month's edition of the Journal of Dairy Science, researchers suggest storing these products at cool temperatures and using them as quickly as possible. Read abstract.

Get familiar with feed
New research published in the January Journal of Dairy Science takes a look at how exposure to grain or hay at an early age impacts feeding behavior post-weaning. University of Guelph researchers randomly assigned eight Holstein bull calves at birth to a feed exposure treatment of concentrate or grass/alfalfa hay. At weaning, calves were given a mixed ration. Interestingly, they sorted for familiar feed; that is, calves previously exposed to concentrate sorted for short particles that were primarily concentrate. Calves previously exposed to hay tended to sort for long particles that were solely hay. After four weeks of exposure to the mixed ration, sorting was similar between treatments, with calves in both treatment groups sorting for short and against long particles and consuming a diet with a similar concentration of nutrients and energy. Researchers concluded that feed familiarity affected initial diet selection post weaning, but may not have a lasting effect, with all calves developing similar feed-sorting patterns. Read abstract.


 Sponsored by Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition

Q: Does neutral detergent factor (NDF) content of the diet always regulate dry matter intake (DMI)?

The following answer is provided by Dave Mertens, forage expert and president of Mertens Innovation & Research in Belleville, Wis. It is excerpted from a presentation he made at the recent Cornell Nutrition Conference.

A: No, but there are always specific situations where it is the controlling factor, and due to the nutrient demands of high levels of milk production, it is more often the controlling factor for the intake of lactating cows than in the past...
    It is clear that the chemical concentration of NDF in feeds and in the ration is the single most important factor defining the effect of NDF on DMI. The NDF-Energy Intake System of Mertens (1987, 1992) uses this relationship to effectively adjust the (forage-to-concentrate ratio) of rations to define the upper boundary for intake at a given target of milk production and to describe the ration that maximizes the forage content of the ration for a target level of milk production.
    Next in importance is particle size of the NDF because it not only affects the fill volume in the rumen, but it also has a dramatic affects on the passage of NDF through the animal. The simple mathematical descriptions of the physical and physiological mechanisms of intake regulation make it clear that it is the flows of nutrients or residues that define the intake constraint.
    Finally, characteristics of the fiber that influence its digestibility and physical breakdown will have lesser impact that NDF concentration and particle size on the relationship between NDF and DMI, but these effects can be significant and should not be ignored.

[To read the rest of Dr. Mertens' answer or leave a comment, click here]

 Sponsored by Soy Best

Soy Best

Prices reported the week of Jan. 17-20 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

$238a $403 $275 $180

SE Pennsylvania

$266a $425c $250 $177

Texas Panhandle

$260a $422 $240 $185

Southern Idaho

$271a $431 $320 $180-$190

Central California

$272b $425d $315-$323 NA
a Fine ground shelled corn
Steam-rolled or steam-flaked corn

c 47.5 percent soybean meal
46 percent soybean meal

Dairy Herd Management

Ruminant nutritionist in the Internet era

Editor's note: This Practice Builder was provided by Milos Haas, ruminant nutritionist in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

The Internet allows us to communicate in a way we could not have imagined 15 years ago. It has changed how business is conducted, and helps to bring more efficiency if used properly.
    Four years ago, I started to work with clients in European Union, and it was obvious from the beginning that I would not be able to visit these farmers as often I did my Canadian clients. It was necessary to develop a system of information flow from their farms to my office that would allow me to provide them with the same level of service as my Canadian clients received.
    It was important to establish a standard operating procedure to collect data from the farms and input them into spreadsheets or programs. Training of responsible people was a very important part of this program.
    Monitoring of dry matter of forages, dry matter intake, particle size of TMR, manure sampling, occurrence of ketosis, RP, hypocalcemia, utilizing of data loggers for hour-by-hour barn temperature and humidity measurements resulted in creation of a spreadsheet that is being sent to me weekly. All herds are on Dairy Comp 305 or the Afi Milk program that I monitor weekly from my office.
    Forage-sampling procedure has been established, and responsible people are trained to collect samples. Metabolic profiling of lactating dairy cows is done regularly, and results are available to me within a few days.
    I visit these European herds three times a year
    These farms have made tremendous progress in the past four years. The highest-producing herd, which totals 1,300 cows, is at 26,500 pounds of milk, up from 19,300 pounds four years ago. Pregnancy rates are between 19 and 24 percent, and percentage of culled cows was under 30 percent last year.
    The amount and quality of information I was receiving from farms in Europe turned out to be many times better than the farms I was seeing in Canada. As a result, I implemented this program in Ontario, as well.
    So far, I can say it has saved significantly time and travel expense. Personally, I really like to spend time on the farm and observe. But, at the same time, I had to get more efficient in consulting.
    Technologies for physiological monitoring of dairy cows have great potential to supplement our observational activities.
    Many technologies and programs, such as daily milk yield recording, milk component monitoring, pedometers, automatic temperature recording devices, milk-conductivity indicators, estrus-detection monitors and daily body weight measurements, are already being utilized by farmers. New ones, such as rumination-monitoring devices, daily milk progesterone and BHBA monitoring, will provide a whole new set of information.
    Facilitating the flow of information from farms is one way the nutritionist can add value to his business.
FEED UPDATE    A look at feed inputs, including quality and availability.
 Sponsored by Novus International
Sign up for the next Webinar on Milk Fat Depression, Feb 14 at 11:00 a.m. EST

Time to take stock

Spring is on the way, but we need to take stock of the forage supply now.
    Providing adequate inventory to extend the hay or hay crop silage until the spring harvest may help to maintain milk yield and hold feed costs down, points out Maurice Eastridge, professor and extension dairy specialist at Ohio State University. The forage supply can be extended by minimizing storage and feeding losses, adjusting forage levels in diets, or culling some undesirable cows, he says.
    Here are some good reminders for your farm clients:
  • Estimate amount of hay or hay crop silage needed until harvest time (be conservative in case of delayed harvest due to weather). Make sure you have factored in about 30 days of fermentation before feeding.
  • Given the high grain prices at this time and if the corn silage inventory is adequate, it is advisable to feed more corn silage than just increase the concentration of grain in the ration.
  • If you are getting near the bottom of upright silos, make sure you are staying abreast of the dry matter and quality. The changing moisture in the bottom of the silo may require more frequent dry matter analyses. Also, the higher moisture may have lead to some undesirable fermentation, thus the forage may need to be diluted in the ration to minimize effects on dry matter intake.
  • If you are transitioning to a different cutting or forage species, make sure you have a forage analysis completed and the ration is reformulated before the ingredients are changed.
  • With multiple silos, make sure feedout is on schedule for having space for the newly harvested forage in the spring.

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?
  • Yes, they are basically sticking with the established ration.
  • No, they are deviating from the established ration by a significant amount.

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

Last issue's poll results
Do you recommend locking in corn and soybean meal/protein supplement prices for 2011? (15 responses)
A) Yes (40%)
B) No (60%)

CASE STUDY: Getting to the bottom of retained placentas
 Sponsored by BASF

Editor's note: The following information was presented by Matt Waldron, assistant professor of dairy nutrition and health with the University of Missouri, at the Penn State Dairy Cattle Nutrition Conference.

Imagine that one of your clients is having issues with its fresh pen. Eight of the last 40 cows that have freshened have not cleaned. Upon further investigation, you find that an additional 15 percent of the animals that did clean are showing signs of metritis within five to 10 days of calving.
    Where do you look first?
    Typical suspects may include calcium, protein fractions, energy, sulfur, selenium or Vitamin E. You probably will look to tweak one of these variables.
    But, retained placentas can be really tough. It's hard to know what causes them and exactly how to fix them, says Matt Waldron, assistant professor of dairy nutrition and health at the University of Missouri.
    Waldron highlighted initial research from the 1980s and more recent research out of the National Animal Disease Center that was reported in 2002. Although this was ground-breaking research in the dairy industry, the results have largely not gained traction among dairy nutritionists and even many veterinarians. The research suggests that the immune system should not be overlooked when investigating the cause of any fresh-cow illness on the farm.
    Although nutritional insufficiencies or excesses may specifically affect uterine metabolism and be the cause of retained placenta, don't overlook the possibility of defective immune function.
    Knowing how to fix the immune system is tricky.
    In the case of retained placentas, immunocompetence plays a significant role in normal placental expulsion. "The placenta detaches from the uterus when immune cells come to the sites of placental attachment and basically chew through the connections," says Waldron. If the immune system is not working properly, the immune cells will not release the placenta.
    Therefore, any factor that impacts periparturient immunosuppression will impact the incidence of retained placentas; it's not necessarily just one single nutrient.
     Read the full story.

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

Florida Ruminant Nutrition Symposium
Feb. 1-2 at the Best Western Gateway Grand Hotel, Gainesville, Fla. More information.

Virginia State Feed Association and Nutritional Management "Cow" College
Feb. 16-18 at the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center, Roanoke, Va. More information.

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

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

 Sponsored by Kemin Industries

Nutritionists are 'our ears to the industry'

The year 2010 was marked by favorable weather and higher yields in corn silage crops across the United States. Customers who submitted samples to Rock River Laboratory's main office in Watertown, Wis., noticed differences in corn silage characteristics. "Very early on, when producers started harvesting the 2010 crop, we started getting a lot of phone calls from nutritionists regarding starch levels," said Zachery Meyer, senior client operations and new business manager at Rock River Laboratory. In more than 7,600 corn silage samples analyzed in 2010, starch levels averaged 35.22, compared to 33.14 on 7,400 samples in a wet 2009. NDF values shifted from a high of 42.74 in 2009 to a three-year low of 41.33 in 2010. Other variables remained relatively unchanged. Crude protein experienced a slight uptick from 2009 numbers and lignin essentially mirrored the previous crop. "Nutritionists are literally our ears to the industry," said Meyer. "Based on the comments we had from our customers regarding the 2010 crop, we expected to see these values in our statistical comparisons."

Dairy Herd Management, 10901 W 84th Terr, Suite 300, Lenexa, KS 66214
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JAY-LOR Vance Publishing Corp. All Rights Reserved.

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