Nutritionist e-Network - September 2011

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Sept. 16, 2011
Welcome to the Nutritionist e-Network, published by Dairy Herd Management® magazine. This issue is sponsored by Adisseo, Balchem, BASF, 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


MUN could serve as financial incentive
The correlation between milk urea nitrogen and reduced ammonia emissions from cows is strong enough that the dairy industry may want to consider offering financial incentives for milk shipped with the desired range of MUN values. “This would be a relatively simple way to move the industry in a positive direction toward abatement of (ammonia) emissions and environmental enhancement,” say researchers from the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center and the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the September issue of the Journal of Dairy Science. Read the abstact.

Chopped forage works for calves
New work from the Institute for Agrifood Research and Technology in Barcelona, Spain, recently took a look to see what effect different forage sources would have on the performance and feeding behavior of calves. Researchers conducted a series of three studies — each one involving 60 bull calves. Calves were around 14 days old and randomly assigned to one of three different dietary treatments. Control calves that were fed concentrate without any forage provision. The two other treatments consisted of the same concentrate plus a forage source. Forage sources were: chopped alfalfa or rye-grass hay; chopped oat hay or chopped barley straw; corn silage or triticale silage, depending on group. When compared to the control group, animals receiving chopped oat hay, triticale silage and chopped barley straw consumed more starter and grew faster. On average, animals that received rye-grass hay, chopped barley straw, corn silage and triticale silage consumed more dry matter from forage than the chopped alfalfa hay and chopped oat hay. The calves that received chopped alfalfa hay and rye-grass hay spent more time ruminating and devoted less time to non-nutritive oral behavior such as licking the walls. Researchers conclude that the provision of a free-choice chopped forage source to young calves will improve feed intake and performance. Depending upon which forage source is fed, non-nutritive oral behaviors can also be reduced and rumination stimulated. Offering chopped forage seems to be an effective method to ensure rumen health without compromising intake and performance. This work was presented at the 2011 American Dairy Science Association meeting.

Short dry period: Some pros and cons
The University of Laval in Canada recently compared the effects of two different dry period lengths on health and reproduction. The study, published in the July Journal of Dairy Science, featured 850 Holstein cows from 13 commercial dairy herds that were assigned to either a 35-day (short) or a 60-day (conventional) dry period, based on milk yield, number of calves and estimated calving interval. Cows enrolled in the conventional dry period group were fed a dry cow ration from dry-off until 21 days pre-partum, at which time they were switched to a pre-calving ration. A pre-calving ration was fed to cows of the short dry period group throughout the entire shortened dry period. Results showed:

  • Significantly higher cull rates for cows that had more than one calf (i.e. twins) in the short dry period group compared to those enrolled in a conventional dry period group.
  • Lower incidence of metabolic disorders for second lactation, compared to third or later lactation cows in both groups.
  • Cases of mild ketosis were lower for cows in the shortened dry period group.
  • Occurrence of retained placenta was higher for second and later lactation cows in the short dry period. However, this did not lead to increased cases of metritis.
Researchers concluded that a short dry period can transition cows back to the milking herd sooner, without major effects on health and reproduction parameters.


 Sponsored by Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition

Q: Should you lower dairy ration crude protein levels?

The following answer was provided by Larry Chase, dairy nutrition professor at Cornell University. It is excerpted from his presentation at the 2011 4-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference in Dubuque, Iowa.

A: You should consider lowering ration crude protein for two primary reasons. The first is to improve profitability by increasing the efficiency of converting feed nitrogen intake to milk nitrogen output while at least maintaining milk production. The second reason is that feeding lower crude protein rations decreases the excretion of nitrogen to the environment and lowers ammonia emissions.
    On many farms, there is an opportunity to decrease ration crude protein by 0.5 to 1.5 units with minimal risk to lowering milk production. This can have significant implications on both farm profitability and nutrient management practices.
    Even though dairy cow nitrogen metabolism is complex, it can be broken down to a few key points. Nitrogen consumed in feed is either used as a nutrient source to support milk and milk protein production or it is excreted via urine and feces.
    A number of research trials have been conducted to explore the ramifications of lower ration crude protein levels on milk production. Keep in mind that many of these have been partial lactation studies rather than full lactation studies.
    For example, a Swedish trial concluded that rations with 16 to 17 percent crude protein were adequate for early lactation cows when rations were balanced including RDP and RUP. A Wisconsin study featuring mid-lactation cows averaging about 90 pounds per day reported that diets containing 16.1 percent crude protein had similar milk and milk protein levels to a ration with 18.8 percent crude protein.

(Continue by clicking below)

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

Soy Best

Prices reported the week of Sept. 12-15 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

$285a $350c $412-$430 $250

SE Pennsylvania

$349a $404d $390 $220

Texas Panhandle

$306a $413 $390 $330

Southern Idaho

$325a $408 $455 $260

Central California

$316b $395 $472-$485 $300
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 Quali Tech

The art of respect

Editor's note: The following Practice Builder was provided by Carmen Monson, independent nutritionist with Monson Consulting, located in northwestern Wisconsin.

Over the years, our consulting firm has worked with many herds, from large free-stall operations to small family dairies. With that experience, I've found that most farms want generally four things: results, a proactive yet practical approach, quick answers to their questions, and respect.
    Most nutritionists provide the first three fairly well, but more and more often I've seen problems with the last of the four — respect — particularly if the farm is fairly small or isn't doing very well.
    There are many ways to show respect for the dairies you work with. Here are a few that have worked for us:
     1. Be prompt: make appointments and be on time. I make regular appointments with about 80% of our clients; the other 20% do not like regular appointments. For the clients that do not like appointments, I'll call or e-mail the farm the evening before I'm in the area. For cold calls, I always try to call or e-mail to set up an appointment and if that's not possible, I'll stop for a brief farm visit to set up a more convenient time. Scheduling not only shows respect for the producer's time, but also makes you more efficient as well. Being on time for that appointment is also extremely important. Try not to schedule too many appointments back to back so that if one runs long, you end up late for the next farm. If you are running late, simply call and apologize-and give an approximate time of arrival.
     2. Always bring something to the party: be prepared. Even if it's just a check-up, always bring something that either supports a previous point you're trying to get across, a new idea you'd like to introduce or a checklist of things to remember. Making the best use of your time together is a great way to show respect.
     3. Pull out all the stops: use all of your available resources. When a producer is experiencing some real trouble, pull out all the stops. Try a team approach with their veterinarian, breeder, university researcher or local expert — whoever and only whoever is pertinent to the problem. Facing an issue with everything you've got shows the producer that you care about his business and you're willing to work with other members of his team.
     4. Focus on their goals: really listen. One of the biggest problems I see in other nutritionists is that their goals for the dairy are different from the producer's goals. I’ve been guilty of this myself. Really listen to what the producer is trying to tell you: does he really want to go for high production? Is he more interested in high components? Would he like to use more local commodities? Listening closely and acting on what he wants is the best way to show respect.
     5. Make sure to follow up: get back quickly. Following up with a quick e-mail or call can be an easy way to show respect. Not only do you show that you're concerned with his operation enough to call, but it helps you head off a potential problem that may be developing.
     6. Mind your manners: details make a difference. Always make sure you remain polite, professional and respectful of their property. It may seem trivial but sometimes, it can be the "last straw" to a producer. For instance, you can encourage discussion but walk away from arguments — you won't win. Never fake it if you don't know something. Tell them you'll find out and do it.
    Sincerely apologize when you're wrong. Don't drive on the lawn. Don't kick the dog. You know the drill! And always make sure you show gratitude at every opportunity. There is a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that says "Men are only respectable as they respect." In other words, give respect and you will gain it yourself. The benefits you receive for yourself and your business will be well worth the effort.

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

Precision feeding of trace minerals

A new dimension has been added to precision feeding.
    Until now, precision feeding has focused on protein inputs. With protein, the idea is to look at an animal’s amino acid requirements rather than just crude protein. That, in turn, offers the opportunity to save on soybean meal because the nutritional program is more targeted and precise.
    This summer, the Association of American Feed Control Officials accepted a new feed ingredient category involving chelated trace minerals.
    Chelated trace minerals present a new precision-feeding opportunity.
    They are chemically bound to another substance, such as an amino acid or ligand, which helps them withstand the rigorous journey through the rumen and to the small intestine. Because they are more targeted to the small intestine and more bioavailable, it presents an opportunity to feed trace minerals more precisely and efficiently.
    It also offers an opportunity to feed less total mineral volume than would the case with inorganic mineral sources.

CASE STUDY: The best replacement for whole cottonseed is whole cottonseed
 Sponsored by BASF
Editor's note: The following case was handled by Carl Old an independent nutritionist from LeGrand, Calif.

One of the herds that Carl Old works with wanted to reduce the amount of whole cottonseed fed in the ration to reduce feed cost. This particular herd decided to try an allocation of the whole cottonseed so the ration change would have minimal affect on overall herd performance. The cottonseed was dropped from the ration of cows that were 150 days in milk that averaged 110 pounds of milk.
    However, once the ration changes were implemented, the overall butterfat content of the herd dropped significantly. On paper, the two rations were very similar (before and after the changes), but the cows said the rations weren’t. (It’s important to note that butterfat depression wasn’t noticed in pens where cottonseed remained the same.)
    Old explains that the new rations were isonitrogenous, but carbohydrates replaced some, but not all of the fat. Differences in net energy intake, using NRC values, were 2.04 megacalorie (Mcal), which only explained 90 percent of the reduction in milk energy content. Current models assume an efficiency of metabolizable energy (ME) use for net energy of .62. Using this estimate indicated that ME intakes dropped by 3.29 Mcal. The normal pathway for fat synthesis from acetate has a maximum efficiency of .70. For a reduced ME intake of 3.29 Mcal and an efficiency of .69, predicted energy reduction is 2.26 Mcal, explaining all of the observed variation in milkfat.
    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 30 respondents will win a Dairy Herd Management hat. Poll results will be posted in the following issue.

This month's poll questions are as follows:

What percentage of dairy cows are fed diets balanced for amino acids?
  • 5%
  • 10%
  • 25%
  • 50%
  • Greather than 50%

What percentage of dairy cows are fed diets which include supplemental amino acids?
  • 5%
  • 10%
  • 25%
  • 50%
  • Greather than 50%

Nearly 100% of the poultry diets in the U.S. are fed diets with supplemental amino acids. How long will it take the dairy industry to reach 90%?
  • 5 years
  • 10 years
  • 20 years
  • Never

Do you balance for amino acids when formulating feed? (12 responses)
A) Yes (75%)
B) No (25%)

Do you use supplemental amino acids when balancing for amino acids? (12 responses)
A) Yes (75%)
B) No (25%)

Which supplemental amino acids do you use? (10 responses)
A) Lysine (0%)
B) Methionine (10%)
C) Lysine and Methionine (90%)
 Sponsored by Chr. Hansen Animal Health & Nutrition
Chr. Hansen

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.

Penn State Dairy Cattle Nutrition Workshop
Nov. 9-10 at the Holiday Inn, Grantville, Pa. More information.

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

 Sponsored by Kemin Industries

Take a closer look at metabolic disease with PCDART’s Activity Tracker

Editor's note: The following information was provided by Erinn Oliphant, manager of outreach services for Dairy Records Management Systems in Raleigh, N.C.

While metabolic disease is nothing new to producers or their consultants, there are few tools designed to examine the intricacies of this frustrating and complex management challenge. Dairy Records Management Systems now has a way to take a closer look at metabolic disease with Activity Tracker. Designed by well-known dairy nutritionist Greg Bethard, this software is available to producers and consultants who have the latest version of PCDART.
    Activity Tracker allows users to look at the incidence of metabolic disease for cows or heifers on either a monthly or days in milk basis. Activity Tracker can help with the assessment of milk fever, ketosis or LDAs and any other disease of importance, such as digestive or retained placenta.
    Examples of questions that can be answered with Activity Tracker include:
  • What percent of fresh cows had DAs, RPs, and ketosis from May 22 to Aug. 23?
  • Are fresh cow DAs occurring immediately after calving, or are they occurring 15-30 DIM?
  • Do cows that have metabolic disorders have lower peak milk than cows without any reported metabolic disorder? (Use Activity Tracker in conjunction with PCDART reports).
Visit for more information or call (919) 661-3100 or (515) 294-2526.


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