Nutritionist e-Network - May 2012

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May 18, 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, 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


Liquid feed provides benefits when added to TMR
Adding a molasses-based liquid feed to a TMR can be used to decrease feed sorting, enhance dry matter intake and improve milk yield, Canadian researchers have found. In this month’s Journal of Dairy Science, the researchers tell about an experiment at the University of Guelph in which lactating cows were exposed to two treatment diets: control TMR and control TMR with 4.1 percent dietary dry matter liquid feed added. Each treatment period lasted for 21 days, with sorting and milk yield recorded the last seven days. Dry matter intake was 1.4 kilograms (3.08 pounds) higher when cows were fed the liquid feed diet as compared with the control diet. That, in turn, allowed the liquid feed-supplemented cows to produce 1.9 kilograms (4.18 pounds) more milk per day — and the results were even more dramatic when the milk was put on a fat-corrected basis. Liquid feed supplementation also cut down on the amount of feed sorting by the cows. The commercially available liquid feed contained cane molasses, corn steep liquor and corn distillers grains with soluble. It was thoroughly mixed with the feed before being delivered to the cows. Read the abstract.

Heifers affected by method of feed delivery
Method of feed delivery can affect the growth and feed efficiency of young heifers transitioning to a higher-forage diet, according to research from Purdue University. During the study, researchers fed a diet consisting of 40 percent forage and 60 percent grain mix (dry matter basis) to 90 heifers that were about 136 days of age. The feed delivery methods were: 1) a hay feeder and grain bunk, 2) forage and grain fed side-by-side in a bunk, or 3) a total mixed ration. The study took place over a 28-day period. Graduate student Tana Dennis reported the group’s findings in March at the American Dairy Science Association Midwest meeting. Here are some key results:

  • Delivery method tended to affect daily weight gain. For example, heifers fed using a hay feeder gained 2.29 pounds per day compared to 1.94 pounds per day for TMR-fed heifers.
  • Average dry-matter intake also was similar between delivery methods. However, at the end of the study, dry-matter intake was lowest for heifers fed forage and grain side-by-side and highest for heifers fed with a hay feeder and grain bunk and heifers fed a TMR.
  • Overall feed efficiency improved for heifers on the hay feeder/grain bunk treatment and heifers fed forage and grain side-by-side, compared to TMR-fed heifers.
The researchers concluded that component-fed diets improved feed efficiency compared to a TMR when growing heifers are being transitioned to a higher-forage diet. Learn more about feed delivery and nutritional guidelines for post-weaned heifers in the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association’s Gold Standards I, Gold Standards II and Gold Standards III.

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: Should I use caution when feeding dietary antioxidants to promote transition health?

The following answer is excerpted from a presentation by Barry Bradford, dairy scientist at Kansas State University, at the Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference in April.

A: Dietary antioxidants, notably vitamin E and selenium, are important for their ability to contribute to reactive oxygen species neutralization, thereby impeding the progression toward inflammation...
    Given the importance of antioxidants in modulating inflammation, it is not surprising that multiple studies have shown that supplementing vitamin E in excess of traditional recommendations decreases the incidence and severity of clinical mastitis (Smith et al., 1984; Weiss et al., 1990a). More recently, a meta-analysis showed that supplemental vitamin E is also effective at preventing retained placenta (Bourne et al., 2007)...
    Although much of the literature on antioxidants in transition cows demonstrates positive effects, these nutrients must be used with caution. In an effort to maximize the odds of observing a response, most studies are designed with rather dramatic treatments; for example, one classic study (Weiss et al., 1990b) compared vitamin E intakes of 574 IU/day (no supplemental vitamin E) to 1474 IU/day (supplementing 88 IU/lb dry matter).

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

Soy Best

Prices reported the week of May 15-18 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

$227a $413c $325 $230

SE Pennsylvania

$287a $465d $310 $185

Texas Panhandle

$263a $430 $340 $290

Southern Idaho

$276a $455 $365 $220

Central California

$278b $453 $385 $268
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: Work with your clients to reduce variation in feed nutrients
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 Normand St. Pierre and Bill Weiss, dairy scientists at The Ohio State University.

The composition of all feeds varies. However, the probability that all feeds in a diet will have a lower-than-expected concentration of a given nutrient on a given day is low. Some feeds will have higher-than-expected concentrations; others will have lower-than-expected concentrations. Therefore, the variation in nutrient composition of feedstuffs is usually greater than variation in nutrient composition of the TMR (assuming good, standard feeding practices are in place). The impact of variation in the composition of feedstuffs is reduced as more feeds are included in the diets. Relying on a particular feedstuff that is highly variable in crude protein concentration to provide a large proportion of dietary crude protein increases the risk of being wrong. (In an example shown in the proceedings of the Western Canadian Dairy Seminar), the concentration of crude protein in 10 different loads of corn gluten feed varies from 19.4 percent to 33.4 percent, with a mean of 22.9 percent. The load-to-load variation appears quite high. However, if the TMR was balanced for 17 percent crude protein, using the mean value for corn gluten feed, and the diet contained 10 percent corn gluten (DM basis), the variation in the concentration of crude protein in the TMR is much smaller and ranged from 16.6 percent to 18 percent. Using a wide variety of ingredients in a TMR and not relying too heavily on a single ingredient is probably the best way to reduce the visible and hidden costs associated with variation.
  FEED UPDATE: Fertilizer limits could cost billions
Sponsored by Novus International

The lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency over fertilizer runoff in the Mississippi River Basin could have a costly impact on farmers and ag retailers. Daren Coppock, president and CEO of Agricultural Retailers Association, and Richard Gupton, vice president of legislative policy and counsel for ARA, discussed the implications with Mike Adams on Monday’s AgriTalk radio program.
     “Our concern here is that if the plaintiffs prevail in this lawsuit, the EPA would be required to step in and enforce numeric nutrient criteria on all of the states that have tributaries to the Mississippi River,” Coppock said. “And so you’re talking about a huge swath of agricultural land and a big part of our nation’s breadbasket. If EPA steps in and forces the states to set different criteria than what they are already working with, or tightening those up or setting arbitrary timing requirements, there are all kinds of things that could happen that could turn out negatively for agriculture.”
     Gupton explained that ARA is concerned over this new lawsuit because of what happened in Florida where a similar lawsuit was brought. In that case, EPA set new criteria for fertilizer use that went beyond natural conditions and usurped the state’s own limits.
    With this most recent case in mind, Coppock and Gupton shared that ARA is concerned similar stringent nutrient criteria could be set in the Mississippi River Basing, which would impact a large number of farming and ag retail operations. Gupton reminded listeners that nearly 60 percent of all fertilizer used in U.S. farming is used in the farmland surrounding the Mississippi River, which would be a bigger impact than the lawsuit in Florida.
Full story and AgriTalk audio interview

CASE STUDY: Late-night investigation needed
 Sponsored by Danisco
Editor's note: The following case study was reported by Jeff Weyers, Ph.D., ruminant specialist with Varied Industries Corp. (Vi-COR) in Mason City, Iowa.

I had been working with a dairy for five years when we encountered a severe problem. Out of nowhere, we lost 5 pounds of milk, coupled with a 0.2 percentage point loss in butterfat.
     The area had just been hammered with high winds and rain, so we initially thought it was an environmental-related problem. Neither I nor the dairyman became overly concerned until the weather improved and still no increase in milk production or butterfat.
     Over the next two weeks, we tried a couple different ration formulation changes without a consistent response. Milk production would increase for a couple of days, and then crash again.
     The relief feeder had recently been promoted when the full-time feeder left for another job. I began to question this guy and realized some numbers weren’t matching up.
     I visited the dairy at 1 a.m. the next morning, and the story started to unfold.
    They had told me that feed was being pushed up three times throughout the night, but that was not the case at all. Cows were coming out of the parlor with almost a slick bunk and they still had five hours to go before the next feeding.
    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:

Does amino acid balancing improve pregnancy rates?
  • Yes
  • No
Does amino acid balancing reduce somatic cell count?
  • Yes
  • No

Does amino acid balancing reduce metabolic disorders?
  • Yes
  • No

What is the current producers income per cow per year? (20 responses)
$100/year (10%)
$200/year (10%)
$300/year (35%)
$400/year (20%)
Greater than $400/year (25%)

How much more annual revenue per cow can be expected by balancing diets for amino acids? (20 responses)
$100 (30%)
$200 (50%)
$300 (10%)
$400 (5%)
$500 (5%)
$600 (0%)

What does it cost annually per cow to balance for amino acids in dairy rations? (20 responses)
$0 (15%)
$50 (60%)
$100 (5%)
$200 (15%)
$300 (5%)

 Sponsored by Land O'Lakes Purina Feed

Land O'Lakes Purina Feed

Alltech 28th annual International Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium
May 20-23 at the Lexington Convention Center, Lexington, Ky. More information.

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

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

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

WHAT'S NEW IN THE LAB: New tools for predicting fiber utilization
Dairy Herd

Editor’s note: The following information was written by Dave Combs, dairy nutritionist at the University of Wisconsin, and distributed by Rock River Laboratory in Watertown, Wis.

University of Wisconsin researchers have developed two new applications that predict fiber (NDF) utilization by lactating dairy cattle. The tools are specifically developed to work with the in vitro Standardized NDF assay that was developed by David Combs and John Goeser. The in vitro method was published in the Journal of Dairy Science in 2009.
    The first application predicts total tract NDF digestibility (TTNDFD) of forages and high-fiber byproduct feeds from 24h, 30h and 48h in vitro NDFD measurements. The three in vitro NDFD values are used to determine the rate of NDF digestion in rumen fluid. The NDF digestion rate is then used in an animal model to predict total tract digestibility of NDF. The TTNDFD can be measured directly from the Standardized in vitro method or predicted from NIR calibrations that have been developed by Rock River Laboratory Inc. from 24h, 30h and 48h Standardized in vitro NDFD measurements.
     The second application uses the TTNDFD values to predict milk production when forages are part of the ration of dairy cows. The amounts of forages and their lab analyses are entered into the web-based tool and milk production is predicted based on the energy supply of the diet. The predicted milk output is based on NRC Dairy (2000) energy equations. The TTNDFD milk predictor can be accessed through Rock River Laboratory’s website. The TTNDFD milk predictor is designed to save feed analyses and rations by farm so that they can easily be retrieved and modified. Feed libraries in the TTNDFD predictor can be customized by the user so that feed premixes, co-products, or feeds that have not been analyzed by Rock River Lab can be evaluated in the ration.
     Both applications are designed to predict total tract fiber digestibility of alfalfa, corn silage, grasses and high fiber byproducts. Energy from fiber in grasses, legumes and corn silages can be compared directly to one another.

Basis for the TTNDFD assay:

The models to predict TTDNFD are based on peer-reviewed published research.
     The basis of the TTNDFD model started with a summary of recent literature in which total tract NDF digestibility had been reported from feeding trials that evaluated corn silage, sorghum silage, alfalfa or grasses. Figure one shows that in 20 experiments where legumes or grasses were the primary forage (64 treatment averages were in the data set), the average digestibility of NDF was 47.3 percent. The range in NDF digestibility ranged from a low of 3 percent of NDF to a high of 66 percent of NDF. For corn silage or sorghum based diets (25 experiments, 81 treatment observations) total tract NDF digestibility averaged 40.2 percent of NDF, with a range from 20 percent to 59 percent of NDF. Feeding experiments clearly show that corn silage fiber is less digestible than NDF from alfalfa or grass when fed to cattle.

Dairy Herd Management

The Standardized in vitro NDF digestibility assay is used to measure ruminal degradation of NDF at 24h, 30h and 48h of incubation. The rate of NDF degradation is then estimated from the disappearance of digestible NDF over hours of incubation in rumen fluid. The rate of potentially digestible NDF degradation (kd) is coupled with rates of NDF passage (kp) and estimates of hindgut digestion of NDF that have been summarized in peer reviewed research to predict Total Tract NDF digestibility (TTNDFD).
     The predicted average and ranges for TTNDFD of approximately 1,000 legume and 1,000 corn silage samples that were submitted for forage analysis to Rock River Lab appear to match the NDF digestibility values reported from the published feeding experiments described previously (see Table 1).
     In addition, Wisconsin researchers are completing studies that show that TTNDFD values that were predicted from the Standardized in vitro NDFD assay match the NDF digestibility values that were directly measured in lactating dairy cows.


Dairy Herd Management

The TTNDFD assay is a significant step forward in using fiber digestibility to evaluate forage quality. The TTNDFD milk production predictor will provide a better understanding of how NDF and NDF digestibility of forages can affect forage utilization and milk production. The Standardized in vitro NDFD assay is licensed by Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). For more information about the Standardized in vitro assay, TTNDFD, and the TTNDFD milk production predictor contact Dr. David Combs at or Donald Meyer at
     A webinar, “A New Analysis for Total Tract NDF Digestibility and Use in a Ration Evaluator,” will be given by David Combs on June 4 at 9 a.m. CDT. The link for this webinar is at A demo version of the ration evaluator is available at
     Analysis for total tract NDF digestibility is available at Rock River Laboratory Inc. To request this analysis, ask for the TTNDFD package. The cost is $26 for an NIR analysis (legumes, legume/grass mix, grasses, small grain silages, and corn silage only), while a wet chemistry analysis will be $76. For information on submitting samples please call (920) 261-0446.

Goeser, J. P., and D. K. Combs. 2009. Modification of a Rumen Fluid Priming Technique for Measuring in vitro NDF Digestibility. J. Dairy. Sci. 92: 3842-3848.

Goeser, J. P., P. C. Hoffman, and D. K. Combs, 2009. An alternative method to assess 24h ruminal in vitro neutral detergent fiber digestibility. J. Dairy Science. 92: 3833-3841.



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