Nutritionist e-Network - May 2011

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May 20, 2011
Welcome to the Nutritionist e-Network, published by Dairy Herd Management® magazine. This issue is sponsored by Balchem Corp., Chr. Hansen Animal Health & Nutrition, Elanco Animal Health, JAY-LOR, Kemin Industries, Lallemand Animal Nutrition, Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition, Novus International, Quali Tech and Soy Best.

  Sponsored by Lallemand Animal Nutrition


High-moisture corn can be dynamic in the silo
High-moisture corn (HMC) changes during the ensiling process; it appears that the proteins in the starch-protein matrix are altered by bacterial proteolysis during an extended ensiling time. This has important implications for feeding, because degradation of the proteins allows the rumen bacteria in cows to have greater access to the starch granules that are embedded in the starch-matrix complex — at least that's the hypothesis of researchers at the University of Wisconsin who published their research in this month's edition of the Journal of Dairy Science. While substantiating that protein degradation does take place during ensiling and fermentation, the study discounts the role that commercial inoculants may play in the degradation process. "Degradation of hydrophoboic zein proteins in the ensiling process appears to be best explained by chronic proteolytic activity because inoculation, which yielded greater lactate and acetate concentrations in HMC, had no effect on the degradation of hydrophobic zein proteins in HMC," the researchers said. So, the role of inoculants is to improve the fermentation profile of the high-moisture corn, not alter the starch-protein complex. And, it is important to consider the dynamics at play. High-moisture corn is not a static feedstuff with a fixed book value of nutrient composition, points out Pat Hoffman, dairy scientist at the University of Wisconsin research facility in Marshfield, Wis. Its nutrient content changes during storage, and these changes are likely dependent on physical processing, the strength of the starch-protein matrix at ensiling, and the length of the storage period. Different hybrids with different harvest maturities can come out of the silo with different feeding values. The fermentation process does not necessarily homogenize them and may, in fact, cause greater differences, depending on storage conditions. Since high-moisture corn is dynamic, it is important to monitor starch digestibility and availability during feedout to avoid negative effects like SARA. Read the abstract in this month's edition of the Journal of Dairy Science.

Methionine provides a way to cut crude protein
You don't want to overfeed crude protein for a couple of reasons: (1) the high cost of feedstuffs and (2) the environmental ramifications of excreted nitrogen. But you don't want to scrimp too much and hurt animal performance. An article in the April edition of the Journal of Dairy Science suggests that supplementation with methionine can help in this regard. Over a 12-week feeding study, supplementation of lactating cows with either absorbable methionine as isopropyl-2-hydroxy-4-(methylthio)-butanoic acid or else a commercially available rumen-protected methionine product improved milk production and nitrogen utilization. When either source of methionine was added to a 15.6 percent crude protein diet, performance was equal or better than that of cows fed a 16.8 percent crude protein diet. Read the abstract.


 Sponsored by Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition

Q: Can a reduced-starch diet be fed to lower ration cost without compromising performance? How far can starch be reduced?

The following answer is provided by Randy Shaver, University of Wisconsin extension dairy nutritionist. It is excerpted from a presentation he made at the recent California Animal Nutrition Conference.

A: The optimum starch content of diets for lactating dairy cows is not well defined, but 25 percent starch (DM basis) has been suggested based on a review of published feeding trials (Staples, 2007). Shaver (2010) reported on surveys of high-producing commercial dairy herds performed in Wisconsin and Michigan with dietary starch concentrations averaging 27 percent and ranging from 25 percent to 30 percent (DM basis).

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

Soy Best

Prices reported the week of May 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

$251a $352 $376 $220

SE Pennsylvania

$298a $375c $350 $210

Texas Panhandle

$266a $380 $345 $260

Southern Idaho

$295a $392 $410 $230

Central California

$287b $392d $415-$420 $287
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

ARPAS: A license for nutrition

Editor's note: This Practice Builder was contributed by Marit Arana, feed company nutritionist and former American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists president.

Are you currently certified by the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists? If you aren't ARPAS-certified, you may want to consider becoming certified, says Marit Arana, former California ARPAS Chapter president and past national ARPAS president.
    Similar to taking the bar exam to practice law, ARPAS is a species-specific examination that certifies you are a professional animal scientist. There are currently more than 1,500 members in the U.S.
    "If you went to your accountant's office, you would want to know that he or she is current on this year's tax laws," says Arana. "An ARPAS certification gives your customers the confidence that you are a certified professional who is required to maintain his or her education and is current on industry practices."
    ARPAS members also operate under a published code of ethics.
    Species-specific examinations are available for beef, dairy, horse, goat, poultry, meat science, food science, aquaculture, companion animal, laboratory animal, swine and sheep. After passing the dairy-species exam, an exam in dairy nutrition is also available. If you have a master's or PhD degree, you may also qualify for board certification in the American College of Animal Sciences nutrition discipline.
    Once the species exam is passed, in order to maintain the certification you must have 16 hours of continuing education each year. Currently, an ARPAS certification is a voluntary thing. But, in the future, it could become a requirement to work as a dairy nutritionist, particularly in California, says Arana. Any future nutrition license requirements may be satisfied by an existing ARPAS certification.
    The ARPAS certification proves a certain minimum standard has been met in terms of knowledge. It's defendable in court and is a peer-reviewed test. The national exam consists of nutrition questions from around the country. Arana says there are even a few universities that use this exam to test graduating seniors.
    Without ARPAS certification, how does the dairy farmer know you are current on changes in the dairy industry? she asks.
    Ideally, the feed industry would like to get to a point where it is only dealing with licensed nutritionists. If something goes wrong on-farm, the dairy farmer turns to the feed company when there is an issue and the nutritionist is not licensed.
    ARPAS plans to do outreach to the dairy industry to educate dairy farmers on the ARPAS certification and encourage them to work with ARPAS-certified nutritionists. More information.
FEED UPDATE    A look at feed inputs, including quality and availability.
 Sponsored by Novus International

Weather could switch corn acres to soybeans

Editor's note: The following item was written by Marlys Miller, editor of Pork Magazine, a sister publication of Dairy Herd Management.

Moving into the second half of May, the crop planting outlook becomes increasingly tenuous. USDA's latest Crop Progress Report shows that as of May 16, 63 percent of the corn and 22 percent of the soybean crop is in the ground. That compares to the five-year average of 75 percent for corn and 31 percent for soybeans. Making comparisons to last year isn't accurate, because of the unusually warm spring and the tremendous early planting progress it allowed.
    In contrast, this year's cool, wet spring across the U.S. Corn Belt, as well as in significant parts of Canada's grain-producing areas, has been discouraging. Iowa, the corn Mecca, made excellent progress last week, getting 92 percent of its crop planted, but just north in Minnesota planting stalled at 47 percent (the five-year average is 81 percent.)
    States hit particularly hard are Indiana and Ohio, where planting progress has been minimal. As of May 16, Ohio had only 7 percent of the corn crop planted compared to a five-year average that's 10 times that level. It's a bit better in Indiana where 29 percent of corn seed is in the ground.
    Most of the U.S. mid-section has been dry this week, but spotty rain showers return to the weather map yet this week and into the weekend. Northern states also encountered frost which some crop analysts say could require replanting.
    North Dakota farmers had reported significant plans to increase their corn acreage in USDA's Planting Intention's Report, but those plans may have to shift. In Monday's Crop Progress Report, North Dakota (only 14 percent planted) and Wisconsin (35 percent) were the only two states out of 18 reporting no signs of emerging corn. Nationally, corn emergence was reported at 21 percent, which is 18 percentage points below the -year average.
    For some U.S. corn growers, as well as in Canada, there's increasing talk about switching to soybeans. "May 24 is a corn-planting cutoff date," an Ontario producer reported during a marketing conference call. "Yields start to decline significantly and you have to start to wonder if it's worth planting corn." Certainly, June 1 is the time to switch to soybeans for just about everyone.
    Last week, USDA predicted a national average corn yield of 158.7 bushels per acre. Assuming the targeted 92.2 million acres hold, that would produce a record 13.5 billion bushels. But, that may now be wishful thinking. USDA will provide its complete yearly look at 2011 planted acreage at the end of June.
    The later that corn is planted, the more vulnerable it is to extreme heat during the critical pollination period this summer, which in turn can impact the national average yield. But with rising demand and extremely tight carryover supplies, there's no room for error. "This has been far from a perfect growing season," notes Michelle Lamirande, commodity research analyst with Risk Management.
    Switching to short-season corn would cut yields as well, but generally that's not recommended until near June 1.
    "Weather remains the key factor for corn (and soybean) price movement, but it's still early and we will get a lot more acres planted before the prevent plant days happen," Lamirande says. "We will have to wait to see how many acres are shifted from corn to soybeans as this wet weather forces planting to be delayed." As of the start of this week, she doesn't believe that the weather impact has been factored into the markets. Looking ahead, she advises farmers to keep an eye on weather developments, flooding and issues in the Middle-East due to oil's influence on corn.

CASE STUDY: Analysis of DHI records helps sort out sorting problem
 Sponsored by JAY-LOR
Editor's note: The following information was contributed by Alan S. Vaage, ruminant nutritionist with JAY-LOR.

A herd I worked with in Alberta, Canada, had an acceptable level of milk production (83 pounds); however, it continued to struggle with lower-than-desired milk fat (3.4 percent fat, 3.0 percent protein).
    The feeding system on this older style free-stall farm was comprised of a partial mixed TMR (PMR),fed in a feedbunk in a cross-alley next to the free-stall barn, with a dead-end at one end and capable of only accommodating a third of the cows at a time; a limited amount of loose hay, fed in a feeder within the free-stall area that could accommodate about half the herd at one time; and 4 pounds concentrate per milking (2x), fed in the parlor.
    The overall ration was relatively high in forage, and the PMR contained haylage, barley silage as well as added hay. In an attempt to increase milk fat, the dairyman continually wanted to increase the amount of hay fed, but was limited in what could be added to the PMR as he was using a horizontal auger mixer that did not have blades.
    I suspected the problem was related to animals eating variable ratios of hay and PMR, sorting of the PMR, or both. The dairy producer doubted this could be the problem since he felt the cows preferred the hay and that all the animals ate their share. The issue was finally settled by an analysis of Dairy Herd Improvement records.
    Cows having milk fat minus protein percent equal to or below 0.1 were identified as being "inverted," and classified into three groups based on days in milk (DIM), as either 1-100, 101-200 or 201+ DIM. The results showed that 21.1, 34.6 and 50.0 percent of each group (35.8 percent overall) were inverted, respectively, with many animals having milk fat 0.5 units lower than protein, especially in the 200+ group. These results provided evidence that a relatively large number of cows were sorting the PMR, as well as possibly eating a higher proportion of the PMR than intended. As expected, the feed in the feedbunk showed characteristic signs of sorting.
    Read the full story.

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

Alltech 27th Annual International Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium
May 22-25 at the Lexington Convention Center, Lexington, Ky. More information.

Four-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference
June 8-9 at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa. For more information, contact Marcia Endres at or (612) 624-5391.

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

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

 Sponsored by Kemin Industries

Calibrate rapid NIR starch testing now available at Dairyland Laboratories

Editor's note: The following information was provided by Dairyland Laboratories in Arcadia, WIs.

In the Nov. 19 edition of this newsletter, we told you that a new starch test would soon be available at Dairyland Laboratories. That has since transpired and the Calibrate rapid NIR starch test is now up and running.
    All Dairyland laboratories, including the Arcadia and Stratford, Wis. and St. Cloud, Minn., locations, are equipped to conduct the rapid NIR test for rumen starch digestibility.
    The Calibrate laboratory analysis and online calculator provides an assessment of NIR starch levels — an indicator of rumen starch digestibility — to more precisely calculate ration needs. Testing allows nutritionists and producers the ability to make more accurate starch adjustments when balancing the feed ration to more efficiently use grain and forages.
    Dairyland Laboratories Inc. and Sure-Tech Laboratories are the first certified testing laboratories in the United States to offer Calibrate technology.
    "As an independent, commercial testing laboratory, our infrastructure allows for timely testing and reporting of test results for producers and nutritionists enrolled in the Calibrate program," says Dave Taysom, director of Dairyland Laboratories Inc.
    More information.


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