Nutritionist e-Network - June 2012

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June 15, 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


Dual-purpose inoculants show promise in study
Do your clients run the risk of spoiled silage? Researchers from the University of Florida have found that a dual-purpose inoculant can help. (Dual-purpose inoculants contain both homofermentative and heterofermentative bacteria.) The inoculants reduced the amount and proportion of spoiled corn silage by more than 50 percent, thus reducing energy and nutrient losses, the researchers wrote in the June edition of the Journal of Dairy Science. “Inoculation reduced the yeast and mold populations and consequently reduced the total heat accumulation during the aerobic feedout phase,” they said. This adds to the knowledge base, since little was known prior to the study about the effects of dual-purposed inoculants on the fermentation of corn silage prepared using farm-scale silos, and less was known about their effects on silage quality and preservation during the feedout phase in such silos, the researchers wrote. It now appears the dual-purpose inoculants can help producers avoid risk. They don’t necessarily make good silage better, or even improve the nutrient status of silage once it’s spoiled, researchers note, but they do keep more of the silage from entering the “spoiled” category in the first place. Read the abstract.

Starter protein content evaluated
Does increasing the level of crude protein (CP) in calf starter grain affect performance? University of Illinois researchers sought the answer in an 89-calf study that compared:

  • Conventional milk replacer (20 percent CP/20 percent fat) plus conventional starter (19.6 percent CP, dry-matter (DM) basis).
  • Enhanced milk replacer (28.5 percent CP/15 percent fat) plus conventional starter.
  • (3) Enhanced milk replacer plus high-CP starter (25.5 percent CP, DM basis).
Calves were fed a milk-replacer diet for 42 days, with supplemental starter grain available free-choice starting on day three. Results of the study include:
  • Starter intake was greater for calves fed conventional milk replacer.
  • For calves fed enhanced milk replacer, starter intake was greater for calves fed high-protein starter.
  • During the weaning period, enhanced starter promoted greater DM intake than conventional starter.
  • Average daily gain was higher among all calves fed enhanced milk replacer versus conventional, and highest among the calves fed both enhanced milk replacer and starter.
Rates of change in withers height, body length and heart girth was greater in calves fed conventional milk replacer, but were not affected significantly by starter CP content.

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: What are common problems seen in calf programs?

The following answer was provided by Al Kertz, principal in ANDHIL LLC, St. Louis, Mo.

A: There are a myriad of issues, but let’s stick to common and more readily fixable issues.
     The 2007 National Animal Health Monitoring System report (data collected in 2006) showed that many dairies were waiting too long to begin feeding water and starter to the calves, yet could not wait to begin feeding hay.
    Water should be fed right away after putting calves on a milk/milk replacer feeding program. The calf’s body contains about 70 percent water at birth — the highest it will ever be because as it deposits more fat in the growth process, body fat displaces body water. And if calves experience some scouring, they lose more water through that process. There is also a close relationship between water and dry matter intake (DMI): it is about 4:1. This is also generally true for growing heifers and lactating cows. If water is not available for calves to drink, they are not as likely to begin eating calf starter (CS). Hence, both CS and water should be made available for calves right away.
    The water also needs to be clean, and preferably warm especially as weather cools below 60 degrees F. Calves and cows prefer warm water, even in hot weather.

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

Soy Best

Prices reported the week of June 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

$236a $442c $315-$320 $230

SE Pennsylvania

$278a $469d $290 $215

Texas Panhandle

$268a $468 $325 $250

Southern Idaho

$280a $483 $365 $200

Central California

NA NA $370 $260
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: Despite larger farm sizes, it all boils down to 3 basic circles
Sponsored by Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition

Arm & Hammer
Editor's note: This Practice Builder is excerpted from a presentation at the Western Canadian Dairy Seminar in March by Gordie Jones, veterinarian and managing partner of Central Sands Dairy in Nekoosa, Wis.

Dairy Herd Network
One simple thought to help dairymen, veterinarians and nutritionists understand dairy farms is to break them down into circles. If we understand the circles of dairying, we can look at any size dairy farm and find the bottleneck without being overwhelmed.
     There are three circles on every dairy farm that we need to understand.
     The first circle is the 24-hour circle or what does a cow do for 24 hours a day. How often she is milked? How long does she spend in the parlor and holding area? When does her feed arrive? How long is the manger empty?
     All of these questions are easy to answer when we know the 24-hour circle of a herd or pen of cows.
     The second circle starts at the maternity pen: what does a year look like in the life of a cow? Where does she freshen? When is she moved into the fresh pen? How long is she in the fresh pen? When does breeding start? How many rations does she get fed? When is she dried off? How many dry-cow rations is she fed?
     The third circle also starts at the maternity pen: what do two years look like in a calf’s life? When is she fed colostrum? How much colostrum is she fed? Where is she housed and fed until weaning? How many heifer rations is she fed? Where is she housed until breeding age? When is she bred? When does she move into the close-up pens? How is she handled at calving for the first time?
     If you really understand your circles, or circles on the farms you work with, you can start to identify the bottlenecks to the performance you are trying to achieve and correct them.
FEED UPDATE: Better weather this year should make more whole cottonseed available
Sponsored by Novus International

Despite farmers planting 11 percent fewer cotton acres in 2012 compared to 2011, a more “normal” summer could produce more harvestable acres, and more whole cottonseed available for dairy cows.
     “The weather is definitely looking better than last year, but 2011 was historically dry and absolutely terrible,” says John Robinson, professor and Extension economist, cotton marketing, Texas A&M University. “‘Hot and dry’ would describe a neutral condition in Texas, but portions of the state remain in severe or extreme drought.”
     With 87 percent of the 13.2 million cotton acres planted, according to USDA’s June 2012 Crop Progress report, the focus has turned sharply to crop quality. As of the week ending June 3:
  • 54 percent of the total cotton crop in 15 states was reported in “good” or “excellent” condition, 45 percent was rated “fair,” and 9 percent was rated “poor” or “very poor.”
  • In Texas, which will plant half the cotton crop in 2012, 37 percent was reported “good” or “excellent,” 40 percent “fair,” and 13 percent “poor” or “very poor.”
As for what to expect with cottonseed pricing, Robinson says the answer hinges on harvested acres of lint. “The demand outlook for cottonseed is fairly neutral with increasing dairy consumption possibly offsetting consumption declines in the beef cattle sector. What’s going to drive prices is the supply side of the equation, which will likely be a function of more lint acres harvested in 2012 than in 2011.”
     According to Tom Wedegaertner, director of agricultural research, Cotton Incorporated, producers need to keep an eye on the weather and take a look at prices. “Many producers who’ve taken cottonseed out of the ration in recent years may not even realize cottonseed prices have come down. It’s always a good idea to spot check and consider booking at least a portion of your needs. There is no other single ingredient that can mimic cottonseed’s ‘triple-nutrient’ combination of high protein, energy and fiber.”
     In addition to contacting their nutritionist or cottonseed merchant for information and pricing on cottonseed, producers can use the Cottonseed Marketplace to receive free price quotes from participating merchants nationwide.
     Production insights from John Robinson:
  • 2011 crop: 15.5 million bales with an increase in plantings but major drought and abandonment.
  • 2012 crop: Projecting 17 million bales, more production on less acreage, due to better growing conditions and less abandonment.
Analysis: Cotton production will be higher, so cottonseed production should be higher. Production could swing +/-1 million bales, just depending on the weather. So there’s a fair amount of variability around that forecast.
Bottom Line: “If all goes well, we could see an additional half million tons of whole cottonseed available for feeding in 2012,” according to Wedegaertner.

CASE STUDY: This farm really needed to look outside the box
 Sponsored by Danisco
Editor's note: The following case study was handled by Jason Brixey, partner in Pine Creek Nutrition Service in Turlock, Calif.

It may be too little too late, but dairy nutritionist Jason Brixey is giving it his best try.
     In early April, he began working with a central California dairy with more than 2,000 cows. Unfortunately, the farm was already in big financial trouble.
     For 20 years or more, the dairy worked with a feed mill to have all of its feed pre-mixed and delivered on a daily basis.
     But as the dairy fell into worse financial shape — exacerbated by high feed costs and declining milk prices in the early part of this year — the farm’s financial advisors knew it was time for a change. They recommended that the owner start working with Brixey. And, many of the neighboring farms confirmed that recommendation.
     “It took dire straits for (the farm owner) to look outside the box and give someone else a chance at look at his program,” Brixey says.
     Initially, Brixey’s objective was to get feed cost down. And, he certainly achieved that.
     “By mixing the same ingredients on farm, we saved about 50 cents per cow per day,” he says.
    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:

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?
  • 5 years
  • 10 years
  • 20 years
  • Never
What is the lowest level of crude protein is being fed to high producing dairy herds today?
  • 16%
  • 15.5%
  • 15%
  • 14.5%
  • 14%

Does amino acid balancing improve pregnancy rates? (23 responses)
Yes (87%)
No (13%)

Does amino acid balancing reduce somatic cell count? (23 responses)
Yes (60.9%)
No (39.1%)

Does amino acid balancing reduce metabolic disorders? (22 responses)
Yes (86.4%)
No (13.6%)

 Sponsored by Land O'Lakes Purina Feed

Land O'Lakes Purina Feed

American Dairy Science Association Joint Annual Meeting (JAM)
July 15-19 in downtown Phoenix, Ariz. More information.

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

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

WHAT'S NEW IN THE LAB: ‘It’s an unbelievable tool’
 Sponsored by Kemin Industries

Fermentrics, a new diagnostic test that measures the digestion rates of feed samples, is generating buzz in the industry.
     “I think it’s such a valuable tool for the dairy industry, I’ve been trying to get nutritionists and producers to understand its practical utility,” says Bill Mahanna, global nutritional sciences manager at Pioneer Hi-Bred.
     With Fermentrics, an individual feed or TMR sample is placed in a closed vessel with rumen fluid to measure fermentation gas production. The automated system produces 5,000 data points over the 48-hour incubation. Sophisticated curve-peeling software is used to separate the gas curves into a “fast pool” and a “slow pool.” While not completely homogeneous, the fast pool consists mostly of starch and the slow pool consists mostly of fiber. This gives a more accurate picture of digestion kinetics than traditional methods that may only use one or two time points.
     Mahanna likens it to charting a runner’s progress in a long-distance race. If the runner’s progress is charted only once ― say, at the end of six miles ― it gives an indication of his speed.
     “What would be a better indicator of his running ability would be to measure his time for each and every mile,” he says. “And, in a way, that is kind of what Fermentrics is ― it’s allowing us to measure continuously over the whole fermentation to see the rates of digestion at various time points.”
     From the data, a graph is developed from which the carbohydrate digestion rate values are calculated. These values can be used in sophisticated ration-balancing programs rather than relying on book values populating the feed libraries.
     The Fermentrics methodology also allows for direct measurement of microbial biomass production, or “how many rumen bugs grow on the sample.” This is a powerful metric that can be used to compare feedstuffs or TMR samples.The Fermentrics report also includes an innovative new approach to measuring soluble protein, which many nutritionists believe provides a more realistic value than the traditional borate-buffer soluble protein method used by most laboratories.
     The possible applications of Fermentrics are endless.

  • Troubleshooting forage quality. For instance, a nutritionist can order separate analyses of the TMR and the corn silage. If the corn silage comes back high in microbial biomass production and digestion rate, but the TMR is not so good, then it’s something else in the TMR besides corn silage — typically, the legume/grass forages ― that’s holding things back.
  • Formulating rations. With Fermentrics, you can run an analysis ahead of time and get a good idea of whether the new ration will work. “Theoretically, you could use Fermentrics to put together a couple of different scenarios for rations,” Mahanna says. That might be cheaper over the long run “than trying to wait for the cows to tell us (how a ration is doing),” he adds.
  • Benchmarking successful rations. One opportunity often overlooked by nutritionists is sampling the forages or TMR when cows are performing well, and using this as a benchmark to work toward when production falters.
The price of Fermentrics (including all of the traditional analysis values) is $145 for a TMR and $125 for individual ingredients or forages. Mahanna calls it “a very reasonable price for all of the information that is measured by this innovative methodology.”
     “It’s an unbelievable tool,” he adds.
     Dairyland Labs in Arcadia, Wis., offers Fermentrics in cooperation with RFS Technologies from Ottawa, Canada.


Vance Publishing Corp.

Copyright 2012 Vance Publishing Corporation, 400 Knightsbridge Pkwy., Lincolnshire, IL 60069.
All Rights Reserved.

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