Nutritionist e-Network - July 2012

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July 20, 2012
Welcome to the Nutritionist e-Network, published by Dairy Herd Management® magazine. This issue is sponsored by Adisseo, Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition, Danisco, Elanco Animal Health, Kemin Industries, Lallemand Animal Nutrition, Land O'Lakes Purina Feed, Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition, Novus International, Nutrition Physiology Company and Soy Best.

  Sponsored by Lallemand Animal Nutrition


Amino acid balancing a growing priority
More and more dairy producers and nutritionists are balancing their rations for amino acids, according to a series of studies conducted in 2008, 2010 and 2012. In the latest survey, conducted this past June, 64 percent of producers and 84 percent of nutritionists said they balance rations for amino acids. That’s a significant increase from 2010 when 53 percent of producers and 81 percent of nutritionists said they balance for amino acids. The 2012 survey, conducted by Dairy Herd Management, drew responses from approximately 800 nutritionists, veterinarians and producers. As part of the survey, people were asked what benefits they receive from balancing amino acids. The responses were different between producers and nutritionists. Producers selected “improved reproduction” and “fewer transition cow problems,” whereas nutritionists were more focused on “increases in milk protein” and “lowering crude protein level in rations.” Both groups ranked “increased mllk volume” very high. See the survey results in its entirety.

Almost 60 percent of colostrum on dairy farms is inadequate
The contributions of high-quality colostrum to the health and productivity of dairy calves — in both their early stages and throughout their lifetimes — have been well-documented. But just how much of the colostrum produced in the United States can be classified as “high-quality”? Researcher Kim Morrill and a team of colleagues at Iowa State University conducted a study to find out. The team collected 827 samples of first-milking colostrum from 67 farms in 12 states between June and October 2010. The parity of donor cows was recorded, as was the storage method of the colostrum when it was sampled — fresh, refrigerated or frozen. What the team found is rather revealing. Only 39.4 percent of the samples met industry standards for both immunoglobulin (IgG) concentration and a bacteria measure known as total plate count (TPC). Therefore, almost 60 percent of colostrum on dairy farms is inadequate, putting a large number of calves at risk of failure of passive transfer and/or bacterial infections. If judged only on the basis of IgG, without looking at TPC, a sizeable number of the samples still fail to pass muster. Almost 30 percent of the samples had IgG concentrations that fell below the industry standard, which is defined as having more than 50 milligrams of IgG per milliliter. Nearly 43 percent of the samples had total plate count or TPC that failed the industry standard, which is defined as having less than 100,000 colony-forming units per milliliter. Nearly 17 percent of the samples had TPCs that exceeded 1 million colony-forming units per milliliter. The findings were reported in the July 2012 edition of the Journal of Dairy Science. View the abstract.

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: This year, we will be faced with drought-stressed corn (early corn that tasseled with no pollination to late corn that is only three feet tall and not tasseled). What strategies and alternatives can be considered?

The following answer was provided by Mike Hutjens, professor of animal sciences emeritus at the University of Illinois.

A: With 12 percent of the United States classified as “exceptional drought conditions,” as of early July, dairy managers and grain producers are watching thousands of acres of corn that is experiencing yield and quality reductions. Dairy managers are planning strategies if timely rain does not arrive soon (in some areas, it is too late).
     Corn plants are firing (drying) from the roots up the stalk of the corn plant. Some corn is tasseling which may not pollinate, resulting in barren corn stalks (no ears). Other cornfields are in various stage of grow from 3 to 6 feet in height.
     The following strategies can be considered when facing these challenges.
(Continue by clicking below)
[To read the rest of Dr. Hutjens' answer or leave a comment, click here]
Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition
 Sponsored by Soy Best

Soy Best

Prices reported the week of July 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

$296a $510c $330-$349 $250

SE Pennsylvania

$378a $565d $280 $180

Texas Panhandle

NA NA $330 NA

Southern Idaho

$342a $550 $360 $225

Central California

$345b $556 $365-$398 $270
a Fine ground shelled corn
Steam-rolled or steam-flaked corn

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

PRACTICE BUILDER: Sharpen your perceptions of animal-welfare issues
Sponsored by Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition

Arm & Hammer
How many of your clients dock the tails of their cows? Or, provide access to pasture?
     According to researchers from the Animal Welfare Program at the University of British Columbia, public interest in the welfare of farm animals is on the rise.
     Yet, the researchers add, the dairy industry has few mechanisms for discussing the contentious issues. So, they created virtual town hall meetings to allow dairy producers, industry experts and the public to discuss them.
     To participate, visit to the Cow Views web site and complete a simple registration process. Then, take a survey that asks such questions as: Should we provide pain relief for disbudding and dehorning dairy calves? Or, should esophageal tube feeding be used as the standard practice for providing colostrum to dairy calves?
     While taking the survey, you can see what other people have said and whether your answer agrees with the plurality of people who have taken the survey ahead of you.
     Informational material on each of the production practices is provided, as well.
     If nothing else, it will get you to thinking about the production practices on your clients’ farms.
FEED UPDATE: While you are making yield checks, look for ear molds
Sponsored by Novus International

Editor's note: The following Feed Update was handled by Stu Ellis, FarmGate blog

Your corn crop is going to yield about half of what it normally does — or maybe less — and now you wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night that your corn is infected with — gulp — aflatoxin. Now your income has gone from minimal to dismal. Your corn cannot be used for feed, or food, or even ethanol because of the fungus that prefers droughty corn. There is a growing bitter taste in your mouth, but Garrison Keillor is not going to come to your house with a piece of rhubarb pie.* (See reference at the end of the article.)
     Aflatoxin is nothing to joke about, particularly its devastating financial impact on the value of infected corn, however, aflatoxin is a peril that is covered by crop insurance. And anyone with droughty corn, and who suspects aflatoxin may be lurking inside the husks, must determine whether or not that is the case prior to harvest. After the grain is on the truck or in the bin, it is too late. If you think you may have aflatoxin or any other kind of mycotoxin, get it tested, and call your crop insurance agent.
     USDA’s Risk Management Agency has produced a fact sheet on aflatoxin and specifically says that adjustors must see the problem in the field. Once in the bin, tests on the grain are no longer valid. The adjustor may come to your field and take samples, or provide instructions for leaving representative strips of standing corn in the field for testing when it is possible.
     Gary Hachfeld at the University of Minnesota says the weather we have had this year is perfect for aspergillus fungus development which can produce aflatoxin and other toxins, “High daytime temperatures of 90° F or greater and relative humidity of 80% or greater can also cause aflatoxin. Corn can be contaminated with aflatoxin and aflatoxin can grow and spread while in storage when corn moisture is above 13 peercent and warm temperatures are present.” He also reports you will encounter challenges in disposing of corn that tests positive for aflatoxin, “There are also special guidelines for grain production that has in excess of FDA 300ppb aflatoxin as well as grain that is deemed having zero market value. In addition, farmers may encounter claim settlement delays because elevators may not buy the contaminated grain nor will they supply a reasonable value for the grain. Contact your insurance provider for questions regarding these situations.”
     Read the full story.

CASE STUDY: Emerging diagnostic tools and collaboration lead to improvements
 Sponsored by Danisco
Editor's note: The following case study was handled by Sarah Daugherty, independent consultant with GPS Diary Consulting.

Last fall, following a seasonal change-over in feeds, an 800-cow farm in Minnesota experienced a steep decline in milk yield among the cows in the fresh cow/early lactation/breeding barn.
     Dry matter intake remained high at +65 pounds. Other factors, such as a change in post-calving health or diminished forage quality, were ruled out as the cause for the decline in yield. The forage base — alfalfa haylage and BMR corn silage ? was of outstanding quality before and after the change-over of feeds.
     In early November, nutritionist Sarah Daugherty submitted the total mixed ration fed to high-production strings for analyses and evaluation via the Fermentrics system. For more on Fermentrics, click here. Results from Fermentrics suggested the need to provide for additional productivity from the “slow pool” of ration nutrients, consisting mainly of fiber.
     In response, citrus pulp was added to the diets as a source of soluble fiber, and some production was recouped. At a later date, dairy-quality alfalfa hay was procured and added as a source of forage fiber and soluble fiber. Yet, the immediate result of this move was not as favorable.
     By early February 2012, the amount of combined fat and protein shipped per cow was back to original levels. Although milk yield was slowly, steadily improving, a gap remained compared to previous milk yield for the herd.
    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:

Is there a difference between HMB and HMBi??
  • Yes
  • No
What percentage of methionine in HMB is metabolized in the blood stream?
  • 5%
  • 25%
  • 50%
What percentage of methionine in HMBi is metabolized in the blood stream?
  • 40%
  • 45%
  • 50%
  • 55%
  • 60%

The U.S. Poultry Industry feeds a reduced crude protein and supplements 3 or 4 amino acids. How long will it take the dairy industry to reach this level of precision feeding? (23 responses)
5 years (52%)
10 years (31%)
20 years (17%)
Never (0%)

What is the lowest level of crude protein is being fed to high producing dairy herds today? (23 responses)
16% (13%)
15.5% (39%)
15% (9%)
14.5% (17%)
14% (22%)

 Sponsored by Land O'Lakes Purina Feed

Land O'Lakes Purina Feed

Minnesota Nutrition Conference
Sept. 18-19, Holiday Inn in Owatonna, Minn. More information.

World Dairy Expo
Oct. 2-6 at the Alliant Energy Center campus, Madison, Wis. More information.

Arizona Dairy Production Conference
Oct. 11 at The Waterfront in Tempe. Ariz.

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

WHAT'S NEW IN THE LAB: Get a better handle on genomics
 Sponsored by Kemin Industries

Genomics seems to be taking our industry by storm and we are all on the fast track. Peruse any dairy publication and you are bound to see a variety of genomics-related articles. Producers are testing heifers at an ever-increasing rate. University and industry researchers are touting the benefits of using genomics as an evaluation tool. Now the question is: What to do with all of this genomic data?
     Dairy Records Management Systems has the answer. The Heifer Genomics Guide (DHI-428) is now available to all dairy producer clients on DHIA test who genotype. Genomics results flow from UDSA-AIPL to DRMS and are merged with relevant management information. The result is the Heifer Genomics Guide.
     Consultants can receive a copy of the Heifer Genomics Guide and a genomic data offload from their customers. The huide helps zero in on heifers with the most potential by ranking all genotyped heifers by Net Merit Dollars. This ranking can assist with culling and flush decisions as heifers are ranked based on their genetic potential when compared to their cohort heifer group and to the current milking herd. To get the greatest benefit from genomics testing, tools such as the Heifer Genomics Guide are becoming increasingly important. The huide enables producers and consultants to make informed decisions about heifers from a genomics perspective and will help elevate the value of genetics in U.S. dairy herds.
     Contact DRMS at (919) 661-3120 or (515) 294-2526 for more information. A sample report is available at

Dairy Herd
Nutritionist e-Network



Vance Publishing Corp.

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All Rights Reserved.

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