Nutritionist e-Network - March 2012

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March 16, 2012
Welcome to the Nutritionist e-Network, published by Dairy Herd Management® magazine. This issue is sponsored by Adisseo, Danisco, Elanco Animal Health, Lallemand Animal Nutrition, Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition, Novus International, Soy Best and Zinpro.

  Sponsored by Lallemand Animal Nutrition


Nutritional models generally do a good job
Some of the commercially available nutritional models accurately predict essential amino acid flows to the small intestine, according to a study reported in the February Journal of Dairy Science. Authors evaluated four models: AminoCow, Agricultural Modeling and Training Systems, Cornell-Penn-Miner (CPM) and the National Research Council 2001 model. “No model was clearly superior to the others; all have areas where significant improvements can be achieved,” the study says. “With the possible exception of CPM, commercially available nutritional models can accurately predict the flow of (essential amino acids) to the duodenum,” authors said. The models tended to be more accurate in predicting flows when it came to corn silage and alfalfa diets as opposed to grass-based diets, and more accurate with corn grain-based diets than non-corn-based diets. Read the abstract.

Identify at-risk fresh cows
The Nov. 20, 2009, edition of this newsletter and last November’s issue of Dairy Herd Management covered research from Cornell University on the risks associated with elevated levels of non-esterified fatty acids (NEFAs) and B-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA) in fresh cows. New research has been reported in the March Journal of Dairy Science, confirming some of these findings. Researchers found that high serum concentrations of NEFA, BHBA and low concentrations of calcium around parturition are associated with early lactation milk loss. And low calcium concentration around parturition is associated with impaired early lactation reproduction. Read the abstract.

Stick with dry hay
A rapid transition to a higher forage diet during the early post-weaned phase can be stressful on dairy heifers. Although ensiled forages are a common feed choice during this time, are they ideal for maintaining growth and feed efficiency? To find out, researchers from Purdue University fed diets consisting of dry hay as the primary forage source (40 percent of diet dry matter) or ensiled forage in the form of baleage. They fed the dry hay or baleage to 313-pound heifers for four weeks. Study results showed that average daily gain was greater for heifers fed dry hay versus heifers fed baleage (2.23 pounds versus 1.96 pounds). The hay-fed heifers also had better gain-to-feed ratios than the baleage-fed heifers (0.16 pound gain/pound feed vs. 0.08 pound gain/pound feed during the fourth week of the trial). The research was presented at the 2011 Joint Annual Meeting of the American Dairy Science Association and the American Society of Animal Science. For more advice on feeding and growth goals for Holstein heifers less than 6 months of age, please see the Gold Standards I. Target growth goals for older heifers can be found in the Gold Standards II.

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: Despite high feed costs, what are some of the opportunities for producers to maximize profits this year?

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

A: Just knowing the metrics, the various costs associated with feeding cows, is vitally important, Mike Hutjens told those attending the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin business conference this week. What is your feed cost per hundredweight of milk? Can you get it below $8 per hundredweight?
     Feed efficiency is a critical number. How much milk are you getting out of each pound of dry matter? If a producer can improve his feed efficiency from 1.4 to 1.6, it would mean 72 cents more savings or profit per cow per day.
     I think all of these metrics are awfully important for determining, “Do I have that feeding program really fine-tuned? Am I getting the most bang for my buck?”
     Spring is coming. Are you going to put more alfalfa in your feeding program? Are you going to go to corn silage? What varieties of corn silage are you going to?

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

Soy Best

Prices reported the week of March 12-16 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

$246a $359c $297-$310 $240

SE Pennsylvania

$299a $405d $270 $260

Texas Panhandle

$263a $383 $320 $320

Southern Idaho

$295a $400 $340 $220

Central California

$290b $410 $360 NA
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

Help your clients stem losses from feed shrink

Editor's note: This Practice Builder is from Doug DeGroff, dairy nutritionist from Tulare, Calif.

This past December, a central California dairy was billed for seven loads of feed that it never received. Even more interesting, the seven loads came from five different suppliers.
     The farm was doing the right things: It had scales to weigh in feed deliveries and was careful to match the feed bills with the delivery tags. In this case, there were no weight tickets or delivery tags for the seven missing loads. But the bills came nevertheless.
     Since it happened at one of his client farms, nutritionist Doug DeGroff is more vigilant than ever about delivery problems. A lot of producers have scales, he says, but may not be taking the extra step to match the delivery tags against the billing statements.
     It is one of the ways that “feed shrink” can occur, where feed gets lost or ruined between the time it is harvested and the time the cows are ready to eat it.
     DeGroff helps his clients minimize the feed-shrink problem. And, one of the things he is adamant about is having a feed management software program that tracks what the feeders are doing.
     “With the price of feed being where it is, there is no reason not to have a feed management program that is helping you to manage” the thousands if not millions of dollars of feed inventory, he says.

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

To some people’s surprise, cottonseed prices have come down

Lower cotton acreages, a persistent Texas drought and a recent dip in cottonseed prices add up to the following advice for dairy producers: check prices now and consider locking in at reasonable prices for the balance of 2012.
     According to Larry Johnson of Cottonseed LLC, of La Crosse, Wis., dairy producers may be able to purchase whole cottonseed from March through December at considerably lower pricing than 90 days ago. “For example, in the Memphis North market, we recently traded cottonseed in the $225-240 range, about $65-85 per ton lower than in December.”
    Tom Wedegaertner, director of agricultural research at Cotton Incorporated, says producers need to weigh the market factors: “It’s possible that we could actually have a larger supply of cottonseed in 2012 compared to 2011, despite an anticipated 7.5 percent reduction in acres, but the fate of that supply hinges largely on the weather in Texas.”
    The USDA's March 6 Drought Monitor reported “mounting lack of precipitation” in western Texas and the Texas Panhandle — a stark reminder of 2011, which saw the cotton crop shrivel under extreme drought. “It’s no surprise many producers aren’t aware that cottonseed prices have come down,” Johnson says. “We saw a lot of dairies scaling back on cottonseed three years ago when prices got extremely high, and many haven’t looked into prices since. With milk prices falling, dairy producers are looking to reduce feed costs.”
    Regularly checking cottonseed prices is “just good practice,” Wedegaertner adds. Cotton Incorporated launched the Cottonseed Marketplace last year to aid the process. Using one simple form at, producers can request quotes from multiple merchants.

CASE STUDY: ‘A Jersey is a whole different animal’
 Sponsored by Danisco
Editor's note: The following involves Naji Nassereddine, independent dairy nutritionist from Chandler, Ariz.

Last July, an Arizona dairyman was having problems with low butterfat and inconsistent milk production. So, he called nutritionist Naji Nassereddine for help.
     The dairyman was not looking for increased milk production, necessarily — especially in late summer — but help in lowering his feed cost and improving the health of his cows. In the summer heat, his cows seemed tired and stressed out.
     After looking at the rations being fed, Nassereddine knew he could make improvements that would not only keep the cows healthy, but also improve butterfat.
     “I went back to the basics,” he says.
     Whoever had been feeding the cows before was feeding them more like a Holstein herd than a Jersey herd, Nassereddine 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; e-mail for more information. Poll results will be posted in the following issue.

This month's poll questions are as follows:

Do you monitor Energy Corrected Milk?
  • Yes
  • No

What is the most important parameter to monitor to detect changes in performance?
  • Milk Volume
  • Butterfat
  • Protein
  • ECM

What influences milk prices the most? (28 responses)
Butter prices (7.1%)
Cheese prices (75.0%)
Nonfat dry milk prices (17.9%)


Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference
April 24-25 at the Grand Wayne Center in Ft. Wayne, Ind. More information.

Mid-South Ruminant Nutrition Conference

April 25-26 at the Embassy Suites at DFW International Airport in Grapevine, Texas. For more information, contact Ellen Jordan at

Four-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference
June 13-14 at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa.

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


Same-day mineral analysis on your NIR samples

Dairy Herd Management
Editor’s note: The following information was provided by Rock River Laboratory, in Watertown, Wis.

With milk prices fluctuating and feed costs at a premium, monitoring mineral content in your client herd’s TMR is more critical now than ever before. There are two key areas where close observation can help determine whether or not your prescribed diet is being fed.
     Is your mixer working properly? This is an area often times overlooked by the feeder. Without proper mixer maintenance, your mineral may not be distributed evenly across the bunk.
     Is the feeder mixing properly? Human error can prove to be costly if products are being added in the wrong sequence. The amount of time spent mixing is crucial as well. Over-mixing or under-mixing can greatly affect cow performance and health.
     To determine whether your TMR mix and distribution are accurate, take several samples at equal distances across the bunk. For instance, pull one sample every 10 feet for the length of the bunk and submit the sample for mineral analysis.
    As part of our commitment to bring you the most accurate and cutting-edge analysis, Rock River Laboratory has installed an X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer. This technology allows you to get same-day mineral analysis on your NIR samples. How does it work? This instrument exposes the sample to X-rays; each mineral of interest emits a specific radiation. Based on the intensity of the radiation, the concentration of each element is determined. The instrument is calibrated to give you results for Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Magnesium, Sulfur, Sodium and Chloride.
     We have performed many comparative analyses using the XRF and our ICP method. The test is convenient and practical, and our results are always dependable. For more information on XRF mineral analysis, please visit

Dairy Herd


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