Matching animal requirements with herd feeding practices
By Jed Asmus, Independent nutritionist
and Jennifer Heguy, UCCE dairy advisor
Nutritionists, UC Extension advisors and specialists often talk about the cost of feeding excess. This article expands on that theme and will cover the logic and lost opportunities associated with over supplying nutrients to your animals.
The focus is the intricate relationships between milk production, dry matter (DM) intake and body weight, and how your animals’ nutritional needs are determined by stage of lactation and level of production.
When a cow calves, she enters a period of negative energy status, caused by DM intake limiting her ability to meet the demands of lactation. This will be the case for approximately the next 10 weeks of lactation.
Energy is partitioned to the mammary gland for milk synthesis, and because she cannot consume enough DM to meet the demand of lactation, she takes it from her body reserves, and body weight decreases. For this reason, she is at a high risk for metabolic diseases, especially during the transition period. The transition period is comprised of the three weeks before and after calving, and is the time when milk fever, ketosis, retained fetal membranes, metritis and displaced abomasum primarily affect cows.
After production peaks at around 56 days in milk (DIM), the cow’s production slowly tapers off. This is matched with increased intake, which reaches the highest levels between weeks 10 and 20 of lactation. During this time, the cow is in a state of balanced energy status (body weight is maintained).
The third period, positive energy balance, is when the cow compensates for the body weight lost in the previous two periods. Dry matter intake continues to taper off, but is at a level that allows for milk production (decreasing), continued weight gain, as well as maintenance of pregnancy. Weight gain continues throughout the dry period as the cow approaches the transition period.
Despite the fact that nutrient requirements change as an animal proceeds through her lactation, it is not uncommon for dairy producers to feed all lactating cows one ration. The idea behind this practice is that by feeding one ration to the herd, there is little chance of under-feeding the lower-producing cows, ensuring maximum milk production.
However, the cost of this practice is rarely justified with more milk, or more importantly, increased profits. To illustrate our point, we will assume the lactating herd is broken up into two groups, high production and late lactation. Currently, they are fed one ration designed to meet the requirements of the highest producing cows in the herd (80 lbs. fat corrected milk). The ration costs $5.50 per head per day for high cows consuming 57 lbs. of dry matter. The late lactation cows are producing 60 lbs. of milk and eating 54 lbs. of dry matter.
In this example, the average feed costs to produce 100 lbs. of milk is $7.65 per head per day. While the average feed cost per hundredweight in our herd is $7.65, the cost for the high string is $6.88 while the low string is $8.68. This large divide in the cost to produce milk is caused by two factors: 1) Late lactation cows are producing less milk, while their intakes are relatively high, and 2) These cows are consuming a diet that is supplying nutrients above their requirements, and the extra energy, protein, etc. is going to their back in the form of fat and out into the environment in the form of feces.
The opportunity to decrease the cost per hundredweight and save feed comes from feeding your lower producing cows a ration that is designed to meet their required intake levels (3 lbs. lower than your high cows) and is less nutrient dense. In general, lower cost ingredients contain fewer nutrients, and can be fed at higher levels to the lower producing cows, based on their biological needs.
A great way to determine if you are feeding excess protein is to measure milk urea nitrogen (MUN). Milk urea nitrogen increases when the cow is being provided excess protein beyond her biological needs. Ideally, string MUN’s will run between 10 and 14 mg/dl. A sample above 14 mg/dl is an indication that excess protein is being fed, and it may be beneficial to reevaluate the ration.
Another tool to evaluate the nutritional status of your herd is to measure feed efficiency. Feed Efficiency is the amount of milk produced (fat corrected), divided by the amount of dry feed consumed on a daily basis. Using our example herd, the average feed efficiency is 1.26 lbs. of milk per pound of DM consumed.
For comparison, the low string is 1.11 while the high string is 1.4 lbs. of milk per pound of DM feed consumed. The benchmark for feed efficiency is somewhere in the range of 1.4 and 1.6 lbs. of milk per pound of DM feed consumed, but will fluctuate depending on stage of lactation and animal age.
In the above situation, we are over feeding nutrients to an already less efficient group of animals. While changing nutrient density will not affect feed efficiency (still consuming the same amount of DM), it will decrease the cost of feed (lower priced ingredients) thus increasing your return on investment.
Feeding according to animal requirements is good for the animal, the bulk tank, as well as the pocketbook.
Cal/West promotes researcher D. Johnson
WOODLAND, Calif. – Cal/West Seeds announced the promotion of David Johnson to assistant director of research.
This promotion is in recognition of David’s significant and varied contributions to Cal/West Seeds during his 14 years of service. In this new capacity, he’ll continue to fulfill the responsibilities of plant breeder and to manage all research activities at the West Salem, Wisc. research facility.
Jonathan Reich, executive vice president of research and development for Cal/West Seeds said: “As the senior inventor of the patented StandFast® alfalfa, the development of varieties with the fast growth and standability traits has been the most significant breeding improvement in alfalfa during the past 25 years.”
Johnson was born and raised on a wheat farm near Kimball, Neb. His educational and experience background includes a BS in Agriculture and an MS in Agronomy, both from the University of Wyoming. He received his PhD in agronomy and plant genetics with a minor in agricultural economics from the University of Arizona. He has been the ASA/CSSA/SSSA/WSSA Congressional Science Fellow working for the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Upon leaving that position, he worked as the research associate/post doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in their plant pathology department before joining Cal/West Seeds in 1995.
David Jones enjoys summer internship at AG
David Jones of Stevinson, Calif. has worked as the Accelerated Genetics marketing communications intern. He was based out of the Accelerated Genetics administrative headquarters located in Baraboo, Wis.
During the summer, Jones was responsible for interviewing, researching and writing feature articles for the “Genetic Trends” newsletter, writing news releases, designing promotional brochures, updating the company website, working with the Accel-Link electronic newsletter, helping with the development of advertising campaigns, and representing Accelerated Genetics at various conferences, conventions, shows and events throughout the summer.
Jones has been extremely involved in his family’s farm – Jones Farms Dairy. He has been involved with milking, feeding, calf care, general herdsman duties and maintenance. In addition, Jones has worked at the California Polytechnic State University dairy milking cows, ensuring cow comfort and overall dairy cleanliness.
Besides his on-farm-related activities, Jones has worked as special projects intern for the Holstein World where he was responsible for video editing for online newscasts and commercials, online show and event coverage, photography and blogging.
This fall Jones returns to Cal Poly where he is majoring in dairy science with minors in ag communications and agribusiness.
Monfore joins WWS as management advisor
Dr. Gene Monfore has joined the World Wide Sires , Ltd., team as a dairy farm management advisor. In this role, Monfore will conduct training and provide technical support for the World Wide Sires distribution team around the world.
John Schouten, WWS chief executive officer commented, “World Wide Sires is pleased to add Dr. Monfore to our team. He has been a leader in the industry and was very successful in his previous work as technical support veterinarian and dairy farm management consultant for another organization. He will be a great asset to the WWS teams around the world.”
Monfore brings more than 30 years of experience in technical support for the dairy industry, having provided veterinary and consulting services all across the U.S. and in many other countries.
Monfore and his wife currently reside in Visalia, but will relocate to Indonesia.
Land O’ Lakes, J.D. Heiskell & Co. form joint venture
TULARE, Calif. – Land O’Lakes Purina Feed and J.D. Heiskell & Company have announced the formation of a joint venture feed and grain company in California’s San Joaquin Valley.
The new company will be called “Golden State Feed and Grain” and will have its principal offices in Tulare. The entity will operate Land O’Lakes Purina Feed’s feed mill in Hanford, and J.D. Heiskell and Company’s feed mill in Pixley, and sell rolled grains, mixed feeds, mineral blends, commodity blends and other value-added products to central California livestock feeders.
J.D. Heiskell & Company will continue to sell feed commodities and by-products under its own name.
“We formed this partnership to capture many advantages our united businesses can bring to the animal agriculture community in this market,” said Heiskell senior vice president and chief operating officer Ryan Pellett. “We’ve combined the purchasing power of J.D. Heiskell’s commodity trading business with Land O’Lakes Purina Feeds’ market-leading proprietary nutrition products to create a peerless array of competitively priced products for local feeders. We have increased both our inbound and outbound transportation options with locations in two counties and on the two major railroads serving the state. Consolidation of production capacity in this market was inevitable and we think that this strategic partnership accomplishes that in a way that will strongly benefit our shared customer base.”
“We are excited about this venture, which is grounded in a shared commitment to serving California agriculture, and in particular the region’s dairy industry,” said Dave Hoogmoed, president of Land O’Lakes Purina Feed Division.
Golden State Feed and Grain will employ many of the production, sales and office personnel that worked for its two founding firms and will be headquartered at 116 W. Cedar Ave., Tulare, Calif.
Longtime dairyman Lynn Fletcher dies at 88
TULARE – Lynn Winfield Fletcher passed away at home on Sunday, Aug. 15, surrounded by his loving family. Lynn was born in Arkansas on Feb. 18, 1922. At six months of age his family moved to Norwalk, Calif.
Lynn attended elementary and high school in Norwalk, graduating from Excelsior Union High School. He and his brother Quintin were well known musicians and tap dancers performing at many Southern California venues.
While a junior in high school he met the love of his life, Alberta. They were seldom separated from that point on and married in January, 1942. Lynn worked for Bank of America after graduating from Fullerton Junior College. He served his country during WWII in North Africa and Italy. After returning from the war in 1945, Lynn and Alberta settled down and he started working on the family’s farm and dairy. He managed the cows while his father-in-law handled the farming.
Lynn was very active in the community serving on the Carmenita and ABC Unified School District Board for many years. They were also big supporters of the AFS (American Field Service) program, hosting a student from Norway for a year, Rick Rabben, who became their adopted son.
Lynn’s work ethic inspired his sons, Edwin and Robert, to join him on the dairy and together they moved the dairy from Cerritos to Tulare in 1974 and expanded the operation from 140 to 670 cows.
His daughter, Nancy, also followed his lead by working for the industry at the California Milk Advisory Board. As his sons took charge of the dairy, Lynn and Alberta were free to travel extensively.
Lynn was an early volunteer for the World Ag Expo, wearing his orange jacket proudly while he helped exhibitors at the East office.
He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Alberta, and his children and their spouses: Ed and Denise Fletcher, Nancy and David Duxbury, Rob and Kathy Fletcher, and Rick and Elsie Rabben.
His grandchildren are: Michelle and Michael Surkan, Seattle; Jill and Kevin Espinola, Laguna Beach; Neil Fletcher, Majorca, Spain; Todd and Jane Fletcher, Chicago; Mark and Amanda Fletcher, Tulare; Kim Fletcher, Fresno; Greg and Samantha Fletcher, Tulare; Chad and Pilar Hardcastle, Stockton; Kurt Hardcastle, Visalia; Elisabeth Rabben and Martin Stuevold, Norway; and Ellen and Sindre Rabben-Svedahl, Norway. He also is blessed with seven great grandchildren: Lucinda and Rowan Surkan; Tessa Espinola; Kai Fletcher; Bruce Hardcastle; Mari Rabben-Stuevold; and Stine Rabben-Svedahl.
S&W Seed releases world’s first 8 dormancy salt tolerant alfalfa
FIVE POINTS, Calif. — S&W Seed Company (Nasdaq CM: SANW), announces the commercial launch of its newly certified alfalfa variety, SW 8421S, the world’s only Group 8 dormancy salt tolerant alfalfa. Dormancy relates to the length of the growing season and this variety was developed for important hay-growing areas within California, Arizona and Latin America.
“Producing higher hay tonnage is the key to putting more money in the farmers’ pockets. SW 8421S helps farmers grow high quality hay with low quality ground or water, and is also superior for ground or water that doesn’t have salt. We expect it will sell well in the many geographical areas where Group 8 dormancy is the norm “ said CEO Mark Grewal.
With SW 8421S, farmers get high tonnage yields of quality alfalfa on both salty soils and non-salty soils in warm climates. SW 8421S hay tonnage yields are competitive with non- salt tolerant alfalfa, but, unlike the competition, yields stay high when salty irrigation water is used. In university tests at Parlier, California and Tucson, Arizona, SW 8421S grew 18% more hay than the benchmark CUF 101 variety. When compared to another benchmark variety, “Salado,” SW 8421S was one of the highest yielding salt tolerant alfalfas ever certified, of any dormancy, and yielded 32% more hay with non salty irrigation water.
S&W Seed Company, founded in 1980, is a leader in warm climate alfalfa seed varieties, including varieties that can thrive in poor, saline soils. The company’s claims to salt tolerance and high yield product leadership are verified by decades of university-sponsored trials. S&W owns a 40 acre alfalfa seed cleaning and processing facility. For more information, visit their website, www.swseedco.com or contact Betsy Shea, Shea-Campbell & Associates, 831-659-0436, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For dealer locations call 559 884-2535.
Dow AgroSciences to acquire Grand Valley Hybrid assets in Colorado
Dow AgroSciences announced it is acquiring the assets of Colorado-based Grand Valley Hybrids (GVH). The addition of GVH complements Dow AgroSciences’ Mycogen Seeds brand and its western silage business.
“Grand Valley’s strong presence in the silage market and brand recognition in the West will provide a significant opportunity to expand our silage business,” said Chris Garvey, Mycogen Seeds general manager. “Grand Valley’s combination of outstanding customer service and commitment to innovation and quality complements our strategy to build a world-class seeds business.”
Under the agreement, Dow AgroSciences will acquire the Grand Valley sales and marketing areas, as well as the administrative services. For the 2010-11 season, GVH will continue to operate under the Grand Valley brand, and customer service will remain at its existing location in Grand Junction. Grand Valley customers will gain access to Dow AgroSciences technologies.