Precision feeding cows byproduct feeds

Precision feeding cows byproduct feeds

BYPRODUCT feeds are a main staple of the diet for all animal groups on a dairy operation. They are either incorporated into a grain mix or fed as a separate commodity.

Precision feeding can be successfully implemented using byproduct feeds, but the key is finding a supplier that provides a consistent product, according to Pennsylvania State University Extension dairy specialist Virginia Ishler.

There is some bias in the feed industry about certain byproducts versus others, she said.

"For example, in the past, bakery products have not been looked on very favorably because of the potential inconsistency in nutrient content," Ishler explained. "In my experience using cookie meal and candy meal, these have been some of the most consistent byproducts used in dairy rations at Penn State."

She said there was never an issue maintaining precision feeding, especially with protein and phosphorus levels, starch and fat content. Compare this to other more commonly used byproducts such as wheat midds, corn gluten feed, distillers grains and blood meal, to name a few.

Using the Dairy One Forage Testing Lab's composition table, the potential variability of those ingredients, especially related to protein and phosphorus, can be fairly significant, Ishler said.

"Feed companies have a connection with their suppliers and conduct routine testing of commodities brought to the mill," she said.

Ishler emphasized that the same procedure should be followed for producers purchasing commodities.

"The saying that 'the cheap can turn out expensive' is very true," she noted. "The point is that cost should not be the sole factor alone that determines where a commodity gets purchased. There is a price for a consistent-quality byproduct."

If cows are performing well and receiving a consistent ration, there is a price associated with that: milk income. This is why monitoring income over feed cost (IOFC) is so important, Ishler explained.

"That is the true barometer if cows are on track, not focusing on the unit price per ton of a mix or commodity," she said.

Additionally, with the 2015 Class III milk price projected to be around or below $16/cwt., she said it will be critical to monitor margins.


Action plan

Ishler said the goal for monitoring byproduct feeds is to collect a sample of the lactating grain mix or commodity at every delivery and freeze it. If cows aren't performing as expected, producers can send out the most recent sample for a complete analysis.

Additionally, she recommended that producers send commodity samples for a complete analysis — including starch, sugar and fat — at least two times per year as a check.

Ishler provided the following sample collection steps for producers to follow:

1. Collect a sample of the grain mix or commodity in a half-gallon zipper storage bag. Record the sample name and the date received.

2. Place the sample in the freezer, and store it for the duration the mix or commodity is fed.

3. If animal performance (milk production, components, dry matter intake) is suspect during the time a grain mix or commodity is being fed, send the sample to the lab for a complete analysis.

4. At a minimum, have a grain mix or commodity tested two times per year to confirm its nutrient content.


Economic perspective

Monitoring an economic component is necessary to determine if a dairy operation's management strategy is working or not, Ishler said.

She said Penn State starts with July's milk price and calculates IOFC by using average intakes and production of the Penn State dairy herd for the last six years.

The ration will contain 63% forage consisting of corn silage, haylage and hay. The concentrate portion will include corn grain, candy meal, sugar, canola meal, roasted soybeans, Optigen and a mineral/vitamin mix. All market prices will be used.

Ishler said IOFC "is a good way to check that feed costs are in line for the level of milk production" of the lactating cows (Table).

She added that feed costs for dry cows, springing heifers, pregnant heifers and growing heifers are also included.


Feed costs/milk income per cow (%) starting in July 2014


Feed costs/milk


income per cow (%)













Source: Penn State Extension.


Cold-filtered milk

Health and wellness start-up fairlife LLC is making a bold move in the dairy case with its introduction of fairlife ultra-filtered milk. The company said the milk is cold-filtered for 50% more protein, 30% more calcium and half the sugar of ordinary milk. Through the process, it also becomes lactose free.

The key to the groundbreaking milk, according to fairlife, is the company's patented cold-filtration process that enhances milk's natural nutrition without the use of protein or calcium additives.

Dairy farmer and former veterinarian Mike McCloskey, chief executive officer of the co-op, said "fairlife is a transformational innovation that retains the purity of real milk yet significantly improves its health benefits and taste. Our patented filtration concentrates the best of milk's natural nutrients, like protein and calcium, while filtering out the lactose and reducing the sugars. We're very excited to be taking a super-food and making it even better, with more goodness than ever."

He added that fairlife is milk, pure and simple, without any protein powders or nutritional supplements added.

"As dairy farmers and parents of four, we believe that milk could and should be even better," said Sue McCloskey, who co-founded fairlife with her husband Mike. They and a few other families own the flagship Fair Oaks Farms dairy in Indiana.

"With fairlife, we're bringing families everywhere great-tasting, convenient, high-quality, simple nutrition from real food," she said.

The start-up uses milk provided by its founding company, Select Milk Producers, a progressive dairy co-op that is committed to milk quality, animal care and environmental sustainability.

The product is currently rolling out nationwide with distribution from The Coca-Cola Co.'s Minute Maid Division and is available in fat-free, reduced-fat (2%), whole and chocolate reduced-fat (2%) varieties.


Manure expo

The North American Manure Expo is returning to Pennsylvania July 14-15.

The annual expo, presented by the Professional Nutrient Applicators Association of Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin Extension Nutrient Management Team, has grown to include educational and demonstration events.

The expo will highlight the latest in manure and nutrient handling and application technologies by bringing vendors to a common event where side-by-side comparisons through display and demonstration can occur.

Strategic placement of a temporary mini-manure city in a field just off Interstate 81 in Chambersburg, Pa., will allow easy access for the entire mid-Atlantic region.

One tour will focus on manure handling and technologies on area dairies, while another will focus on poultry operations. A third small farm/equine tour is in the planning stages.

All tours will meet at a dairy farm for vendor demonstration of manure agitation equipment, including stationary and boat technologies. Demonstrations of manure dragline technologies will occur at this final stop as well.

After the demonstrations, participants will return to the show grounds, where they can visit trade show vendors and attend educational sessions through the evening.

Volume:87 Issue:06

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