Nutritionist e-Network - January 2012

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

  Sponsored by Lallemand Animal Nutrition


Good news on the bypass methionine front
Bypass methionine supplements are about a 50:50 mixture of D-methionine and L-methionine. Although it has been known for years that L-methionine is the one that cows use for protein synthesis, it’s been difficult to separate them out, chemically — which, if possible would give cows more of the L-methionine isomer and less of the D-methionine isomer. Researchers from Canada now have found that much of the D-methionine in these supplements is transformed into L-methionine by the cows, so D-methionine is available to the dairy cow, as well. The cow’s utilization of D-methionine is slower than utilization of L-methionine, but that could be turned into a plus, as well. Assuming that D-methionine makes it through the rumen and to the small intestine, the longer shelf life of D-methionine could be useful as it offers the opportunity to delay the clearance of the absorbed methionine and act as potential reservoir for L-methionine protein synthesis, say the Canadian researchers. Read an abstract from the January 2012 Journal of Dairy Science.

Looking behind, looking ahead
Research focusing on the feeding and performance of calves and heifers over the past two decades has impacted the way replacements are raised in the United States. Al Kertz, nutritionist and technical services consultant with Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition, St. Louis, observes these developments:

  • Feeding calves more of higher-protein milk replacers can increase their growth closer to their biological possibility.
  • Fat level of milk replacers affects calf starter intake, with 15 percent fat having been shown in several trials to optimize metabolizable energy intake and body composition.
  • Differences in daily weight gain of preweaned calves have been correlated with subsequent milk production of those animals.
  • Starter intake is limited by lack of clean water.
  • Reducing variation in calf weight and intake at their first post-weaning grouping has been shown to increase performance and reduce subsequent variation.
  • Providing free access of lactation-quality forages to heifers can cause undue fattening.
  • Limit feeding of older heifers has been shown to be effective without negative effects.
Looking ahead, Kertz advises that calves are the most vulnerable animals on the dairy, and the most efficient at utilizing nutrients for growth. “Feeding and management decisions must be made on these bases,” he says. “Current death losses of 8 to 10 percent should be 3 to 5 percent, with more attention paid to more optimally feeding young calves before weaning.” He advises that an undue focus on reducing feed cost for calves can have long-term effects on the ability of those animals to achieve their true genetic potential as cows. “We have the tools, knowledge and equipment to do a better job raising calves,” he states. Read more of Kertz’ comments.

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: We are finding out more about oxidative stress and how it may contribute to metabolic inflammation in transition cows. The resulting inflammation may promote metabolic disorders. What are some of the nutritional opportunities to limit this problem?

The following answer is from a presentation made by Barry Bradford, animal science professor at Kansas State University. He presented the information last October at the Cornell Nutrition Conference.

A: Dietary antioxidants, notably vitamin E and selenium, are important for their ability to contribute to neutralization of reactive oxygen species (such as hydrogen peroxide), thereby impeding the progression toward inflammation.
     Interestingly, plasma concentrations of α-tocopherol (vitamin E) decrease through the transition period (Weiss et al., 1990a), and low-antioxidant status is associated with transition cow disorders (LeBlanc et al., 2004; Mudron et al., 1997). Supplementing vitamin E prepartum improves antioxidant status (Weiss et al., 1990a).
     Given the importance of antioxidants in modulating inflammation, it is not surprising that multiple studies have shown that supplementing vitamin E in excess of traditional recommendations decreases the incidence and severity of clinical mastitis (Smith et al.,1984; Weiss et al., 1990a).

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

Soy Best

Prices reported the week of Jan. 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

$245a $304c $320-$325 $260

SE Pennsylvania

$297a $347d $280 $285 (small squares)

Texas Panhandle

$256b $340 $345 $320

Southern Idaho

$270a $339 $355 $250

Central California

$266b $344 $367-$375 $325
a Fine ground shelled corn
Steam-rolled or steam-flaked corn

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

Sponsored by Zinpro

Clients apprised of peak milk production

Editor's note: This Practice Builder is from Robert Patton, dairy nutritionist from Mifflinburg, Pa.

Changes in peak milk production can signal problems in a herd.
     In a small New York herd, the adult cows were peaking rather late — about 70 days in milk, on average. The peak should be around 50 days. The longer peak, coupled with reduced milk yield, signaled that something was wrong.
     It turned out that the problem was foot rot appearing in the dry period, caused by a leaky waterer with a mud hole around it, points out dairy nutritionist Robert Patton. The farmer cleaned up the mud and ran the dry cows through a foot bath twice a week, which solved the problem.
     Patton has been tracking peak milk production in his client herds for 20 years. The clients really look forward to getting their monthly reports.
     Most of his clients keep daily milk weights. So, Patton takes the weights and downloads them into an Excel file. This generates an x-y graph showing all of the animals in the first 100 days of milk. Using a quadratic function, he can calculate where the herd is peaking.
     By comparing peaks on a month-to-month basis, Patton and help his clients spot trends and tell if there are underlying problems.
     Patton says mature cows should peak at or around 50 days in milk. First-calf heifers should peak at 70 days. If there are significant deviations from that, there may be problems. For instance, cows that are peaking at 41 days in milk may not be getting enough protein or energy.
     It also signals to clients whether total production will be going up or down in the coming months.
     “It’s the old song and dance that peak milk determines total production for the year,” Patton says.

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

What is to blame for the recent collapse of corn prices?

Editor's note: This Feed Update is from Stu Ellis, Farmgate

The grain markets were rising from mid-December until the USDA’s Final 2011 Crop Production Report, Supply Demand Report, and Quarterly Grain Stocks Report, which were all released on Jan. 12. Declining yields in Brazil and Argentina had been pushing up values at the CME, until last Thursday, until the USDA released data that surprised the market. Corn closed down the 40-cent limit, and both bean and wheat markets also collapsed with abandon. Was the market drop the result of USDA finding a lot more available grain to supply the domestic and global demand, or was it the result of something else?
     After closing limit down on Thursday and dropping another 12-cents on Friday, many farmers were less than pleased with the USDA’s numbers, wondering how they could be so much higher than what the grain traders were expecting. But someone watching numbers for many years contends that USDA numbers were probably close to reality, and the traders who estimated what the USDA would say were more optimistic than they should have been. University of Illinois grain marketing specialist Darrel Good says the surprises in the report would not have been such a shock, had the traders been looking for numbers that were closer to reality. Consequently, he suggests that the traders were more to blame for the market declining than anything else.
     In his weekly newsletter, Good says the Dec. 1 corn stocks of 9.642 billion bushels were 425 million less than 2011, the least in five years, and only 240 million bushels larger than the average of the guess of the market. He said even three of the 15 companies offering an estimate were in the neighborhood of what the USDA reported.
     Good said part of the reason corn traders were surprised was that the stocks numbers were above their expectations, along with their expectations for the size of the 2011 corn crop. He says the market does not have to offer any justification of why it thought there would be a 30 million bushel reduction in crop size, compared to the last estimate. Instead, the USDA raised its November estimate by 48 million, which as only 0.4 perent larger than the November forecast. He calculated the spread of the change as one-third of the surprise in the stocks estimate.
     Read the full story.

CASE STUDY: What has worked when it comes to group-rearing of calves
 Sponsored by BASF
Editor's note: The following was provided by Corwin Holtz, dairy nutritionist from Dryden, N.Y.

Seventeen months ago, if someone had told me that group-raising calves was the way to go, I would have said they were nuts!
     You can “teach an old dog new tricks,” I guess. As one of my clients clearly states, it is not for everyone. But for some of my clients, it has been and will be the right way to go.
     I saw my first “system” in eastern New York in August 2010. It was in a modest barn (ventilation was good for that time of the year) and my most vivid recollection was that he needed to wean these calves — they were six to seven weeks of age — or he will be in the veal rather than dairy heifer business. Yet it was the most solid, slick, healthy groups of calves I had ever seen. I walked away telling myself that I had to at least investigate this and visit with a few clients that might be able to make such a system work.
     Since last fall, I have had seven clients set up systems — one is a computerized system the others are free-choice. And, there are six more clients looking to get started once spring rolls around.
     It has been, and continues to be, a learning experience for all of us. But, thus far, the hiccups have been minimal. When issues arise, we are able to quickly figure out what needs to be done differently or better.
     The free-choice clients are a combination of waste/high-SCC/saleable milk and some milk replacer. All of these are acidified with dilute formic acid, except for the milk replacer which is pre-acidified with citric acid. After proper acidification, it is true free-choice 24/7. For budgeting purposes, I am figuring 2.5 gallon/day intake from day 1 to weaning at six to seven weeks. At six to seven weeks, they will be consuming 3+ gallons. Free-choice water and free-choice grain is offered to groups from day 1.
    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 first limiting amino acid in dairy cows?
  • Histidine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Amino Acids are not limiting

What is the second limiting amino acid in dairy cows?
  • Histidine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Amino Acids are not limiting

What level of crude protein do you formulate if you DO NOT balance for amino acids? (33 responses)
18% (24.2%)
17% (66.7%)
16% (6.1%)
15% (3%)

What level of crude protein do you formulate if you DO balance for amino acids? (32 responses)
18% (9.4%)
17% (15.6%)
16% (53.1%)


Florida Ruminant Nutrition Symposium
Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at Best Western Gateway Grand Hotel, Gainesville, Fla. More information.

Southwest Nutrition and Management Conference
Feb. 23-24 at Tempe Mission Palms Hotel and Conference Center, Tempe, Ariz. More information.

Western Canadian Dairy Seminar
March 6-9 at the Sheraton Red Deer in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. More information.

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


Keep clients vigilant against mold and mycotoxins

Dairy Herd Management
Editor’s note: The following column was provided by Rock River Laboratory.

Many factors contribute to the growth of molds and yeast in feed. A wet and cool harvest or storing feed at moisture levels above the recommended guidelines can increase the occurrence and levels of mold and yeast. Certain molds can cause disease and produce mycotoxins. While not all molds are harmful to cattle, their presence can contribute to production and health problems in your herd. Further complicating the issue, high yeast presence can be a factor in aerobic instability in feeds which can reduce dry matter intake, production, and growth.
    Rock River Laboratory Inc. has analyzed 532 samples for molds and another 975 for mycotoxins since May 1, 2011.
    The findings are reported in the following graphs:

Dairy Herd Network
Dairy Herd Network

    It is important to remember that many of the samples analyzed for molds and mycotoxins were tested because the nutritionist had some indication of their presence; therefore, the values reported are expected to be inflated to some degree.
     To help identify whether the mycotoxins, molds, or yeasts are present in your feed, feedstuff, or grain, Rock River Laboratory and Rock River Laboratory West offer several solutions. The Yeast and Mold Count PLUS Mold Species Identification runs $30 per sample. Vomitoxin, Fumonisin, Aflatoxin, Zearalenone, and T-2 analyses are also available for $30 per toxin analyzed.

Dairy Herd

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