The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) and Miner Institute released the results of the first comprehensive analysis of products that can be substituted for corn in dairy cow rations in Northern New York.

Corn is an expensive (about $200/ton), starchy commodity often mixed into dairy cow feed rations. A Cornell University field survey showing that high-production dairies in the northeastern U.S. and upper Midwest were successful feeding lower-starch diets prompted interest by farmers in Northern New York to evaluate economically-feasible replacements for corn grain in dairy rations.

With NNYADP funding, the William H. Miner Agricultural Institute conducted a comprehensive inventory and analysis of accessible and appropriate dairy diet substitute products that are easily accessible in the Northern New York region.

“The Northern New York region is well-situated to take advantage of regional opportunities for purchasing good buys on such products as soybean hulls, distillers’ grains, malt sprouts, and gluten feed as well as citrus pulp and whole cottonseed stored in facilities along the St. Lawrence River,” said project leader Rick Grant, president of Miner Institute.

Dairy nutritionists participated in a survey to identify the dairy ration byproducts they currently use and where they are sourced. Product samples were collected and sent to the Dairyland Lab in Arcadia, Wis., to evaluate the digestibility; impact on rumen efficiency; protein, carbohydrate and macromineral content; and other factors using a new technique called Fermentrics.

‘We believe this is the first time Fermentrics has been used to evaluate byproducts that can replace corn grain in the dairy cow diet in Northern New York,” Grant said. “We found good agreement between the analysis and the actual measured cow response in previous studies conducted here evaluating carbohydrate sources.”

Using the various feedstuffs is estimated to increase the income over feed cost (IOFC) by about 44¢/cow/day compared to a standard higher-corn, higher-starch diet. The actual savings vary depending on the prevailing price of forage, grains and the various byproduct feeds. Dairy producers need to work with their nutritionist to monitor byproduct prices and formulate diets that maximize IOFC.

Dairy farmers and dairy nutrition consultants can use the results of this study to develop lower-starch dairy rations using the most nutritionally effective and economical replacement products without compromising milk production.

The complete Economical Substitutes for Corn Grain in NNY Dairy Cattle Rations report with results tables is posted on the NNYADP website at http://www.nnyagdev.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/NNYADP201314DairyDietResReport.pdf.

Contact Kara Lynn Dunn, Northern New York Agriculture Development Program, via e-mail: karalynn@gisco.net

Contact Rick Grant, William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute, via e-mail: grant@whminer.com