Nutritionist e-Network - July 2011

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

Trouble viewing this email? Click here
July 15, 2011
Welcome to the Nutritionist e-Network, published by Dairy Herd Management® magazine. This issue is sponsored by Balchem Animal Nutrition & Health, 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


Maintain transition cow metabolism to reduce immune dysfunction
To date, no single factor has been reported to be responsible for the immune dysfunction that cows experience around the time of calving. Experimental models of under-nutrition have generally failed to reproduce the typical problems seen during this period. But, aspects of energy metabolism, especially ketones, have been reported to negatively impact immune function, according to research presented by Matt Waldron, University of Missouri dairy nutrition specialist, at the 4-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference in early June. Although not as well understood, high levels of circulating NEFA and calcium metabolism may also contribute to immunosuppression around the time of calving. In addition to metabolites, many dietary nutrients, like vitamins C, D and E, as well as trace minerals like zinc and selenium, are involved in immune protection. Some of these nutrients are involved in immune cell function, but many others serve to minimize damage during the immune response by limiting inflammatory damage. Much of the potential damage caused during inflammation is due to oxidative stress, or the reaction of unstable oxidizing molecules with tissue lipids, proteins and DNA. Many of the micronutrients that are important for immune function and health also serve as antioxidents to protect tissue. Careful nutritional management to provide highly bio-available nutritional profiles and to maximize metabolic health is currently the best strategy to maximize immune function. Access the paper.

Temperature affects calves’ water intake
Very limited information is available on the effects of drinking water temperature on dairy calves. A recent experiment was designed to study the effects on performance, health, and water consumption of dairy calves offered drinking water either warm (60.8 to 64.4 degrees F) or cold (42.8 to 46.4 degrees F). There were 60 calves per treatment and they were housed in an insulated barn in pens of five. During the experimental period, 20 to 195 days of age, the calves had free access to water from an open water bowl. During the pre-weaning period, 20 to 75 days of age, all calves received 7.93 quarts of milk replacer per day and had free access to commercial starter, grass silage, and hay. During the post-weaning period, 75 to 195 days, the weaned calves had free access to grass silage and hay and were given 6.6 pounds per day of a commercial concentrate mixture. During the pre-weaning period, the water intake of the calves offered warm water was 47 percent higher than that of the calves offered cold water. Water intake in both treatments increased rapidly during weaning and for a few days following weaning. At 180 to 195 days of age, the calves consumed approximately 4.76 to 5.28 gallons of water daily. Calves offered warm water drank 7 and 8 percent more water during the post-weaning period and overall during the experimental period, respectively, compared with those offered cold water. No treatment differences were observed in dry matter or energy intakes, body weight gains, or feed conversion rates. Furthermore, total serum IgG concentrations of the calves did not differ during the pre-weaning or post-weaning periods. Dairy calves consumed more warm than cold water, but the increase in water intake did not influence feed intake, body weight gain, or health parameters, concluded researchers. This research was published in the May 2011 Journal of Dairy Science.

Meta-analysis affirms value of biotin supplementaton
Biotin rocks! That is the conclusion from a meta-analysis done by researchers at Zhejiang University in China and reported in the July edition of the Journal of Dairy Science. The meta-analysis of nine studies indicated that biotin supplementation of diets of lactating cows resulted in increased dry matter intake, milk yield, milk fat, and protein yield, the authors said. Milk production increased by a weighted average of 1.66 kilograms per day, or 3.65 pounds per day. (In seven of the nine studies, the dosage of biotin was 20 milligrams per cow per day.) Yet, biotin supplementation had no significant effect on the percentage of milk fat and milk protein. View the abstract.


 Sponsored by Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition

Q: How can you reduce between-cow intake variations during the transition period?

The following answer is provided by Trevor DeVries, associate professor in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science at the University of Guelph. It is excerpted from his presentation last month at the 4-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference in Dubuque, Iowa.

A: The short answer is: Better bunk management. The long answer is a little more complicated.
    Dairy cattle nutrition research has been focused almost exclusively on the nutritional aspects of the diet, and has led to many discoveries and improvements in dairy cattle health and production. Despite many advances in the field of ruminant nutrition, however, we are still faced with the challenge of ensuring adequate dry matter intake (DMI) to maximize production and prevent disease, particularly in the transition period.
    Many of the cows that experience reduced DMI in the pre-partum period fail to make a successful transition to the post-partum diet. Research shows that about half of cows have one or more adverse health events during transition, so any practices that can help reduce disease at this time are of significance to the dairy industry.
    One of the interesting aspects of transition disease is the individual variability of cow susceptibility. Despite the fact that all animals received similar management and diets, we still face a certain percentage of animals that succumb to disease while others remain healthy.
    For example, sub-acute ruminal acidosis is highly variable among cows, despite similar feeding management. There is some data to suggest that this may be in part due to high between-cow DMI variation that can be as high as 30 to 40 percent during the transition period. (This variation drops back to 6 to 10 percent following peak lactation.)
    Research also suggests that a 1 percent increase in the variation of DMI during the first 21 days of milk was associated with a 4 percent increase in post-caving incidents (dystocia-related, metabolic or digestive disorders). (Continue by clicking below)

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

Soy Best

Prices reported the week of July 11-14 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

$254a $345c $417-$420 $250

SE Pennsylvania

$305a $390d $390 $168

Texas Panhandle

$271a $380 $390 $285

Southern Idaho

$294a $395 $460 $250

Central California

$301b $391e $475-$479 $290
a Fine ground shelled corn
Steam-rolled or steam-flaked corn

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

46 percent soybean meal
Sponsored by Quali Tech

How a focus on cow comfort has helped me

Editor's note: This Practice Builder was contributed by Chris Hill, nutritionist for Poulin Grain in Vermont. It first appeared in the Sept. 18, 2009, edition of this newsletter. Chris Hill recently was asked if he had any updates, and he said to go with the original column — it's still very pertinent to today.

I have always felt that if farmers spent a little more time and money taking care of their cows, the cows would pay them back.
    After I graduated from college, I was fortunate enough to find a job as a herdsman with a producer who proved this for me. We had sand stalls, some bedded-pack space, an intensive hoof-trimming program, and basically focused on treating the cows as well as we could. I know some of our expenses were higher than in other herds, but the production level and internal herd growth more than made up the difference to the point where we were one of the most profitable herds in the Northeast.
     Meanwhile, I had noticed many articles about the latest feed additives, but very few about cow comfort. I have always felt that if cows are not provided with an environment in which they can adequately feed and rest, it will not make much of a difference as to what we do as nutritionists. I decided to go back to school to obtain a master's degree so I could put some science behind my experiences as a herdsman. I wanted to prove to other farmers that investing in improvements, such as stall renovations, would prove economically justified.
     I feel that my experience and focus on cow comfort has given me an edge in my career as a nutritionist and feed salesman. For example, this focus has helped me break the ice on cold calls. We all know that farmers are immediately skeptical when a new salesperson shows up in the dooryard. After I introduce myself and mention a little bit about my background, most farmers are intrigued. Even on the first visit, they want to know my opinions on stocking density when I tell them about my thesis on the subject. By focusing on their cows and management, I can start a conversation without really looking like I am trying to sell something.
     These initial conversations have often led to the chance to do a full evaluation in which I measure the stalls and alleys, calculate the cows per stall and feed bunk space, and do body condition and lameness evaluations. Very few of my competitors are doing these things as thoroughly. Even if I do not get the business right away, I earn the farmer's respect and trust. I am confident that these efforts at least move me into second place.
     I started with a list and no customers, but now I am doing fairly well.
     One of my first customers was milking 590 cows when I started working with him. Since we have been working together, they have grown internally to the point where they are milking 630 cows and are starting to have to cull heavily to keep from becoming too crowded. One of the things I noticed when I first started there was that the fresh group would fill up the section of stalls with decent mattresses first when they came back from the parlor. When we put new, more comfortable mattresses in the other stalls, the pattern completely reversed and these were filled up first. We have since re-done many of the stalls and mattresses in the barn as well as increased the amount of water available. We are also making about 5 pounds more milk than we were when I started, and they have very few fresh-cow issues.
    If we put a little more time and effort into taking care of our cows, they will repay us.

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

Soy Best

Severe drought in South will reduce cottonseed supplies

Extreme drought across Texas and the South is expected to decimate a significant portion of the 2011 cotton crop, causing experts to lower previously optimistic forecasts for cottonseed supplies. Amid tightened supplies, demand among dairy producers is expected to remain strong. "What looked like one step forward for cotton — and cottonseed — production could actually turn out to be two steps back," says Tom Wedegaertner, director of cottonseed research and marketing, Cotton Incorporated. "Despite 1.3 million more acres planted to cotton this year, poor growing conditions could wipe out about 2 million acres."
     In Texas alone, which represents half of total U.S. cotton production, 89 percent of the crop is in fair to poor condition, according to a USDA report reflecting the week ending July 10. Wedegaertner translates the turn of events for dairy producers: "While earlier this year we anticipated about 4 million tons of cottonseed being available to dairy producers, up from 3.7 million tons in 2010, we may now be looking at 3.3 tons of cottonseed."
     John Robinson, professor and extension economist, cotton marketing, at Texas A&M University, adds that while cottonseed availability will decrease, product demand is expected to remain steady. "Reports are showing that beef cattle demand will be lower, while dairy demand for cottonseed may come in higher. So, we should expect cottonseed demand aligning with that of last year’s. And with reduced supply, stronger prices are being suggested."
     With the anticipation of higher cottonseed prices, some experts are recommending dairy producers book up to half of their needs at once, especially if it fits into their ration. "Since it's hard to predict a dip in the market, we are suggesting dairy producers initially buy 25-50 percent of their needs," says Larry Johnson, chief operating officer at Cottonseed LLC. "Then, finish purchasing their supply sometime between now and harvest," he adds.
     While the cottonseed market will always ebb and flow, there are ways for dairy producers to prepare for dips. According to Wedegaertner, a little bit of planning and staying up-to-date on the field can help dairy producers mitigate swings in pricing and keep cottonseed in their rations.

CASE STUDY: Before this nutritionist intervened, it was the pits
 Sponsored by Balchem
Editor's note: The following case was handled by Fausto Regusci, dairy nutritionist from Grover Beach, Calif.

Fausto Regusci has had a long, productive career as a dairy nutritionist. Now that he is in semi-retirement, he is fortunate to be in a position where he can donate a portion of his time to helping dairies free-of-charge.
    "My goal is to help dairymen have a better life," he says. "I've seen a lot of stress in dairymen, especially in the last few years," he adds. This is one way to mitigate the problem.
    Earlier this year, he decided to help a 300-cow dairy near Modesto, Calif., that was having serious production problems. It was a Jersey herd. The herd average was only 42 pounds per day, and the cows didn’t seem healthy; among other things, there was reduced cud-chewing.
    It didn't take Regusci long to zero in on the cannery waste that was being added to the cows' ration. Fruit and vegetable cannery waste can be a good by-product feed, but in this case there were red flags. This particular waste included peach pits, and peach pits are toxic and also fill up the reticulum stomach compartments of the cows. This interferes with cows' feed intakes, Regusci says.
    Regusci had seen this problem before.

    Read the full story.

 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

CVAS offers new fermentation diagnostic panel

Cumberland Valley Analytical Services (CVAS) has recently started offering an expanded fermentation analysis panel. These additional evaluations include alcohols, acetates, and lactates. This allows the nutritionist to consider constituents beyond the standard evaluations for lactic, acetic, butyric, and iso-butyric acids.
    Does the silage smell unusual, perhaps with an odor of acetone? Is the silage feeding with unexpected cow response or lower dry matter intakes? This diagnostic package may shed light on unusual fermentations.
    As CVAS collects data on these fermentation parameters, they will be summarized and made available as part of the report. Additional information on this analysis may be found at under "News."
    An example fermentation analysis with alcohols, acetates, and lactates is provided below. These constituents are run using gas chromatography. Full reports include expected ranges and target ranges which are omitted here.

Feed Type Corn Silage
Dry Matter 31.8%
pH 3.93
Titratable Acidity 9.43  (meq NaOH)
Ammonia 19.6 %CP
Total VFA 9.37 %DM
Lactic Acid % Total VFA 46%
Lactic Acid and Volatile Fatty Acids
Lactic Acid 4.33 %DM
Acetic Acid 4.39 %DM
Propionic Acid 0.65 %DM
Butyric Acid ND %DM
Iso-butyric Acid ND %DM
Alcohols, Acetates, and Lactates
1,2 propanediol ND %DM
1‐propanol 1.270 %DM
Methanol 0.023 %DM
Ethanol 0.191 %DM
2‐butanol 0.009 %DM
Methyl acetate ND %DM
Ethyl acetate 0.007 %DM
Propyl acetate 0.638 %DM
Ethyl lactate ND %DM
Propyl lactate 0.008 %DM

(ND = non detect)

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

T5 Electro Command™

New Holland has further extended the T5 Series appeal to livestock producers with the addition of the Electro Command™ semi-powershift transmission. Two ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides