Nutrition and Feeding
Diet Formulation and Evaluation
Feed efficiency is a simple measure to determine the relative ability of cows to turn feed nutrients into milk or milk components. In the simplest terms it is the pounds of milk produced per pound of dry matter consumed. This measure should always be a consideration of dairy diets and becomes increasingly important during times of tight profit margins.
Agriculture contributes approximately 6 to 7% of the total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Methane from enteric (microbial) fermentation represents 20% and manure management 7% of the total methane emitted. Some dietary practices that have been shown to reduce methane include addition of ionophores, fats, use of high quality forages, and increased use of grains.
This factsheet will describe the variation found in production of milk components, factors that contribute to this variation, and strategies to improve component production.
Use this spreadsheet to calculate milk price using the formulas for the Mideast Federal Order.
Milk volume and components are important to the producer because they determine the income generated. They can also indicate whether an animal health problem exists. The challenge for producers is determining when milk fat or protein becomes too low that animal health is affected or that income suffers.
Ruminant animals do not efficiently utilize dietary nitrogen. Excess nitrogen fed in the form of feed proteins is excreted in manure (urine + feces).
Environmental concerns with phosphorus (P) have forced the animal industry to re-evaluate the levels formulated in diets. It has been demonstrated in numerous research trials that excess P intake equates to excess P out in the manure.
Until recently, almost all dairy nutritionists have been formulating dairy rations with P levels higher than what the National Research Council (NRC) has recommended.
Topics Include the advantages of a TMR feeding system, the disadvantages of a TMR feeding system, feeding management on TMR systems and the general approach to formulating TMRs.
Spanish language version of "Use of total mixed rations (TMR) for dairy cows".
French language version of "Use of total mixed rations (TMR) for dairy cows".
Carbohydrates (CHO) are the major source of energy for rumen microorganisms and the single largest component (60-70%) of a dairy cow’s diet. They represent the major component of net energy for support of maintenance and milk production.
This worksheet is designed to help capture information necessary for a complete and thorough dairy ration/feeding program evaluation. Important areas to cover are records, animal condition, feeding systems, available feeds, and management.
Proper feeding of the dairy cow is complicated and requires a combination of scientific knowledge, creativity, and good management skills to balance the needs of the rumen microorganisms and the needs of the animal.
Spanish language version of "From Feed to Milk: Understanding Rumen Function".
Dry Cow Nutrition
Proper management and nutrition of the dry cow are critical for obtaining maximum dry matter intake, good health, increased reproductive efficiency, and optimum milk production in the following lactation.
There are many tools that a nutritionist may use to evaluate and monitor the nutritional status of high producing dairy cows. Evaluating the feces or manure can provide information about general health, rumen fermentation, and digestive function of cows.
Producing a high quality food product begins at the farm level. Milk quality cannot be improved after it leaves the farm. Dilution or processing will not make good milk out of bad. Prevention is the only way to assure milk is of good quality and flavor.
Monitoring the milk components of a herd can help assess the health and nutritional status of lactating cows. A herd milkfat test below 0.3% of breed average can indicate a problem situation.
Topics include expected production, low peaks, failure to bag and produce ample milk, excessive decline in milk production and short lactations.
Heat Stress and Nutrition
Topics Include ambient temperature guide, the effects of heat stress on cattle, ration adjustments and other management suggestions.
The recent expansion of fuel ethanol production capacity has resulted in an increased availability of ethanol byproducts for dairy cattle feed. Availability of corn distillers grains (DG), often called distillers grains, has increased substantially and, consequently, the interest in using these feeds in dairy cattle diets has also increased.
Expanding herd sizes have allowed dairy producers to implement alternative feeding strategies. This has resulted in an increased interest in feeding commodities and food processing wastes in dairy herds.
Incorporating soybeans and its byproducts in the rations for dairy cattle is a fairly common practice. They are an excellent source of essential amino acids and they fit into any type of forage-based ration.
Nutrition and Health
Topics include conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) chemistry and synthesis, methods of increasing milk CLA content, and potential benefits of CLA in milk.
Foot health and lameness are major issues facing dairy producers because of their common occurrence and the tremendous economic losses incurred. Early detection and prompt treatment can minimize the loss, improve recovery, and reduce animal suffering.
French language version of "Prevention and control of foot problems in dairy cows".
In this fact sheet information will be presented on the topics of clinical testing, supportive therapy, and prevention of common disorders affecting dairy cattle.
Topics include possible causes, symptoms and problem situations, forms of milk fever, blood parameters, control suggestions and dietary cation-anion balance.
French language version of "Troubleshooting milk fever and downer cow problems".
Body Condition Scoring
Body condition scoring is a method of evaluating fatness or thinness in cows according to a five-point scale and using the score to fine-tune dairy herd nutrition and health.
This manual describes operating and interpretation procedures for files in the series.
Water and Water Quality
Topics include water intake, water quality and recommended testing options for water.