Nutritionist e-Network - June 2011

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June 17, 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


Not just what they eat, but how they eat it
A growing body of research proves it’s not only about what a cow eats, but also how the cow consumes the ration. "When we formulate rations for cows, we do not take into account how the feed is consumed," says Trevor DeVries, associate professor of animal science at the University of Guelph's Kemptville Campus in Ontario. But, how a ration is consumed is just as important because it can have a direct effect on rumen health and fermentation, he says. At the California Animal Nutrition Conference this past May, DeVries pointed to one research trial where cows diagnosed with severe metritis seven to nine days after calving consumed less feed and spent less time at the feed bunk during the two-week period prior to calving. This was nearly three weeks before clinical signs of infection were observed. In this particular study, during the week prior to calving, cows were 1.7 times more likely to be diagnosed with severe metritis for every 10-minute decrease in feeding time. For every 2.2-pound decrease in dry matter intake during this period, cows were also nearly three times more likely to be diagnosed with severe metritis. More recent work shows similar findings with cows that developed subclinical ketosis. Cows diagnosed with subclinical ketosis during the week after calving showed differences in feeding behavior and dry matter intake as early as one week prior to calving. DeVries provides a summary of research studies in the paper he presented at the California Animal Nutrition Conference. These studies provide us with a basic understanding of how feeding behavior — particularly how, when, what and if cows eat the feed provided to them — and can be used to maximize the potential of our rations. Access the paper.

The developing story of osteocalcin
Traditionally, endocrinology has focused on organs whose primary role is to secrete hormones. The pituitary gland, adrenal gland, thyroid gland, the gonads, the kidney and the pancreas all received much attention in the early years of endocrinology. But in recent years there has been a paradigm shift to recognize that major metabolic tissues, including adipose tissue, liver, the gut, and even bone also serve as endocrine organs. In many cases, the hormones derived from these tissues are only now being characterized in transition dairy cattle and some have intriguing possible roles in regulating metabolism during this turbulent state of the production cycle, says Barry Bradford, animal science professor at Kansas State University. For example bone cells produce a protein hormone called osteocalcin. Increased osteocalcin concentrations promote insulin release and also improve insulin sensitivity in adipose tissue. Combined, these responses promote increased adipose tissue fat deposition, notes Bradford. Osteocalcin also stimulates secretion of adiponectin, which is a key anti-inflammatory hormone produced in adipose tissue. The fact that osteocalcin is produced by osteoblasts suggests that its release would be greatest during skeletal deposition. Data in growing and mature dairy cattle fits with this characterization, demonstrating that serum osteocalcin is highest early in life, declines with age, and declines further in the days immediately following calving. Interestingly, plasma osteocalcin is also decreased in heat-stressed lactating cows, consistent with both bone mobilization during heat-stress and the potential for increased inflammation. "The developing story of osteocalcin in the transition cow will be interesting to watch," notes Bradford. The dramatic remodeling of bone that occurs in the first week of lactation coincides with decreased insulin concentrations, the onset of insulin resistance and systemic inflammation (as indicated by acute phase proteins). "We may find that strategies designed to promote calcium mobilization may have much broader effects on metabolic physiology through effects on osteocalcin," he notes. Bradford provides a review of some of the most recent findings and discusses potential roles of newly-described hormones in the paper he presented at the California Animal Nutrition Conference. Access the paper.


 Sponsored by Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition

Q: What nutritional strategies can help mitigate the effects of heat stress?

The following answer is provided by Lance Baumgard, associate professor of Animal Science at Iowa State University. It is excerpted from his presentation at the 4-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference in Dubuque, Iowa earlier this month.

A: The biological mechanism by which heat stress impacts milk production and dairy cow reproduction can be partially explained by reduced feed intake. Obviously, heat-stressed cows eat less.
    However, other factors are also at work, like altered endocrine status, a reduction in rumination and nutrient absorption, and, increased maintenance requirements. All of this results in a net decrease in nutrient/energy that’s available for production. In turn, the decrease in energy results in a reduction in energy balance, regardless of state of lactation. Essentially, a heat-stressed cow enters a bioenergetic state that’s similar (but not as severe) as the negative energy balance seen in early lactation.
    In addition to improved heat-abatement strategies, there are several nutritional factors that you can work with to help mitigate these heat-stress effects.
    First of all, the heat-stressed cow is prone to rumen acidosis, and many of the lasting effects of warm weather can probably be traced back to a low rumen pH during the summer months. This may be partly explained by increased respiration rate, which results in enhanced carbon dioxide exhalation. In order for there to be an effective blood pH buffering system, a cow’s body needs to maintain a 20:1 bicarbonate to carbon dioxide ratio.

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

Soy Best

Prices reported the week of June 13-16 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

$286a $389 $435-$460 $250

SE Pennsylvania

$358a $427c $390 $180

Texas Panhandle

NA NA $380 NA

Southern Idaho

$334a $425 $450 $240

Central California

$330b $430d $465-$475 $295
a Fine ground shelled corn
Steam-rolled or steam-flaked corn

c 47.5 percent soybean meal
46 percent soybean meal
Sponsored by Quali Tech

Precision feeding helps reduce feed cost

Editor's note: This Practice Builder was contributed by contributed by Tom Nauman, head nutritionist at Hoober Feeds in Gordonville, Pa.

For several years now, efforts have been under way to convince the dairy nutrition industry in the Mid-Atlantic region to employ a strategy of feeding cows known as "precision feeding." This has been done with the purpose of reducing levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in dairy manure so as to reduce the amount of these nutrients that reach the Chesapeake Bay. I had the opportunity to provide some basic information on this concept in this "Practice Builder" column two years ago, and this article serves as a follow-up to that information. The concept of precision feeding involves the use of detailed forage testing and the latest computer models in order to obtain the goals of lower N and P in the manure. Here are some of the things we have found out.
     First, P levels of the diet can be reduced to NRC levels with no detrimental effect on milk production, reproduction or any other health aspect of dairy cattle. Almost all of the dairy nutrition industry in the Mid-Atlantic region has reduced P intakes to NRC levels or even a bit lower. In addition to saving feed dollars for dairy farmers, we are seeing reduced levels of P in the manure. A challenge that we are having, however, is reducing manure P levels where high amounts of some feed by-products are being used. For example, some farmers have had to reduce intakes of corn distillers in order to lower levels of P in the manure.
     Second, reducing N levels of the diet is much trickier because the main source of nitrogen in the diet is the protein that we feed to dairy animals. As a whole, the Mid-Atlantic region is feeding lower protein levels to cows than we did in the past, but many nutritionists are still hesitant to get their clients diets down below 16 percent crude protein. We have been blessed, however, with a number of tools to help us in being able to do a better job of balancing amino acids so that nitrogen levels of the diet can be lowered. Several new dairy nutrition models have been made available that take the guesswork out of obtaining a good amino acid balance. These include the AMTS lineup of programs, the NDS Professional program and the Nittany Cow program. These programs use the latest amino acid research and a rumen sub-model to help us feed lower levels of nitrogen without sacrificing any aspect of cow productivity. By using one of these types of ration formulation programs, we have been able to meet the challenge of lowering N intake while at the same time improving income over feed costs.
    Third, the NRCS has stepped up efforts to encourage farmers to employ these nutrition strategies by way of the Feed Management Plan program. When a farmer signs up for this program, he receives supplemental funding to help defray the costs of supplemental feed testing and manure testing. The program has been a little slow getting out of the gate, but it is starting to pick up steam as more farmers learn about it and more plan writers become available.
    Overall, dairy farmers in the Northeast are being progressive and doing their part in the effort to clean up the bay. Our local universities have been extremely helpful in providing information to farmers and dairy industry professionals in order to aid this effort. Farmers that are fully employing the concept of precision feeding are benefiting by reducing feed costs while improving the environment at the same time.

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

Corn supplies expected to remain tight

By Bruce Blythe, Business Editor

Dairy producers should capitalize on any price declines in key feed ingredients, such as the corn market's sell-off over the past week, and lock in supplies for the longer-term, FCStone economist Bill Brooks says.
    Corn supplies are expected to remain tight and prices will remain historically high through next year, meaning recent pressure on dairy margins is likely to intensify in the months ahead, Brooks said this week.
    Dairy producers input costs "are going to remain elevated," Brooks said. While most producers are currently "eking out gains," profits later this year "will probably be smaller than they'd like to see," Brooks said. He spoke during FCStone's annual market outlook conference June 15-16 in Chicago.
    Milk income over feed costs, a measure of dairy profitability, is expected to average $8.22 per hundred pounds this year, down from $9.09 in 2010, Brooks said. In 2012, Brooks projects an average of $5.72.
    "We've had a decent start to the year" for dairy profits, Brooks said. "As we work our way toward the end of the year, it starts shrinking and gets tighter."
    Corn prices have more than doubled over the 12 months, reflecting expanding ethanol industry consumption a smaller-than-expected harvest last year. While the market fell sharply over the past week, many analysts expect prices will remain high amid uncertainty over this year’s crop. U.S. corn stockpiles by the end of August will fall to a 15-year low and are expected to shrink further in 2012, according to a government forecast earlier this month.
    In trading June 16, July corn futures fell 24 ¼ cents to $7.01 ½ a bushel, down more than 12 percent from an all-time high of $7.99 ¾ on June 10.

CASE STUDY: Cows drop after drenching
 Sponsored by Balchem
Editor's note: The following information was provided by Don Clark with Standard Nutrition in Hewitt, Wis.

This past December, one of the dairy farms that Don Clark works with wanted to give its fresh cows an edge and started drenching them. This dairy farm milks about 300 cows and has an average milk production of more than 80 pounds.
    "The owner had picked out a drenching product that other dairymen in the area had been using with some success," says Clark.
    Shortly after the herd started drenching its fresh cows, one of the cows dropped dead. Obviously, the dairymen was concerned and wanted to know why this animal had died. "On initial investigation, we found nothing out of the ordinary and assumed the person pumping the cow got some of the fluid mixture into the lungs," explains Clark.
    As time went by, a few more cows died after being drenched. Cows would die anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or two after being pumped; the average time was 30 minutes when the cow would drop over dead. The herd was not seeing the typical signs of respiratory distress expected when getting fluid into the lungs. Instead, cows appeared relatively normal until they dropped.
    The feeding program, drenching protocol and cow-handling were all reviewed, revealing nothing. Clark decided to go back to the product and see if there was something he was missing. "The ingredient list on the tag looked fine. But, as I was reviewing the tag I saw another bag out of the corner of my eye. After examining this bag, I discovered it was an open bag of potassium chloride," explains Clark. "We weren’t feeding potassium chloride in any of the rations, so there was no reason it should have been there."
    Read the full story.

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

Joint annual meeting of the American Dairy Science Association and the American Society of Animal Science
July 10-14 in New Orleans. More information.

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.

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

 Sponsored by Kemin Industries

Mold and yeast problems in your feeds?

Editor's note: The following information was provided by Rock River Laboratory in Watertown, Wis.

Many factors contribute to the growth of molds and yeast in feed. A wet and cool harvest or storing 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.
    To help identify whether the molds or yeasts present in your feed, feedstuff or grain can lead to these issues, Rock River Laboratory is pleased to introduce a new analysis package that identifies Yeast and Mold Count PLUS Mold Species Identification.
    Previously, we offered Yeast and Mold Count and Mold Identification as separate packages, but in an effort to give you more analysis for your dollar, we've combined the two. This new and improved test costs $30. (Mold and Yeast Count will still be available separately for $17.)
     If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at (920) 261-0446 or e-mail us at:

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