Nutrition and Feeding
However, many dynamic factors influence both nutrient requirements and nutrient availability from feeds. In addition, successful feeding of dairy cows requires accurate mixing and delivery of rations so that the diet fed is the same as the diet formulated.
Diet Formulation and Evaluation
Feeding diets with lowered protein content reduces nitrogen input, improves nitrogen utilization efficiency, and reduces nitrogen losses from manure. Reducing dietary protein also benefits the producer by reducing feed cost and improving overall farm profitability. These interventions, however, have to be balanced with the risk of loss in milk production. If the true animal requirements for metabolizable protein are not met, long-term production cannot be sustained.
Herds with lactating dairy cattle exceeding fecal phosphorus levels from 0.55 to 0.80% on a dry matter basis have opportunity for improvement. Herds that have implemented precision feeding and removed all inorganic phosphorus can maintain these levels. Some contracted farms are observing fecal phosphorus levels over 1.0% on a dry matter basis. Based on the herds in this project, fecal phosphorus below 0.80% is achievable.
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.
This article explains how nitrogen fed to cows contributes to ammonia emissions and explores feeding strategies to reduce excess nitrogen in the diet.
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.
This publication addresses the Phosphorus needs of the dairy cow and ways in which dietary Phosphorus can be reduced.
Total mixed rations (TMR) help dairy cows achieve maximum performance and are the most adopted method for feeding high producing, indoor-housed dairy cows in the world. Advantages and disadvantages of TMR feeding systems are presented as well as strategies for successfully managing TMR programs.
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 are the major source of energy for rumen microorganisms and the single largest component of a dairy cow’s diet. Carbohydrate nutrition supports maintenance and milk production and influences milk composition. Achieving an optimum balance between structural and nonstructural carbohydrates in dairy cattle rations is a challenge faced by nutritionists. This fact sheet will examine the limitations of laboratory analysis methods for predicting forage quality, what the different components are that make up the carbohydrate portion of feeds, and the effect farm management practices have on carbohydrate nutrition.
Much information is needed to evaluate dairy herd nutrition and feeding programs. Collecting this information in a systematic manner helps to ensure that important items are not overlooked. This publication contains worksheets to help capture information necessary for a thorough feeding program evaluation, including body condition scores, feeding systems, available feeds, management records, and lactation curves.
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. This comprehensive publication provides background information about how dairy cows convert feeds into milk, with extensive discussion of basic nutrition concepts and descriptions of dairy cattle nutrient requirements and common feedstuffs.
This video explains the ruminant's unique digestive system and shows how feeding management and nutrition can influence its function. Anatomy and functions of the four stomach compartments and the complexities involved in digestion of feeds are described. This informative video demonstrates practical applications in feeding management that can help the dairy producer achieve high levels of milk production. DVD Format. Available in English and Spanish.
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. Feeding a balanced diet, monitoring body condition, and providing complete health care are the cornerstones of a successful dry cow program.
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.
Using commodity ingredients presents both opportunities and challenges in a dairy feeding program. This article addresses ingredient storage, nutrient composition, and variability and presents an overview of factors to consider in managing a commodity-based feeding system.
Incorporating soybeans and their byproducts in the rations for dairy cattle is a fairly common practice. They are an excellent source of essential amino acids and complement most forages. Depending on how they have been processed, soybeans can provide high quality degradable, undegradable and soluble protein, energy, fat, and fiber. However as with any feed, there are some limitations that need to be recognized so their full benefits to the dairy cow can be achieved.
Nutrition and Health
Dairy products and meat from ruminant animals are important sources of nutrients, supplying high quality protein, energy, and a variety of minerals and vitamins. Research during the last few years reveals other nutritional benefits to the consumption of ruminant food products, particularly dairy products. There is one compound in particular, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), that excites scientists, consumers, and producers, and may have far-reaching, positive effects on milk and meat consumption. (CLA) is a naturally occurring component of ruminant milk fat and meat with potent cancer-fighting properties. Manipulation of the animal’s diet can result in up to a 8 to 10-fold increase in the concentration of CLA in milk. Since consumption of CLA-enriched milk could provide considerable benefits for human health, strategies to produce milk with higher CLA content provide new marketing opportunities.
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.
French translation of Therapeutic Nutrition for 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
Water Facts #12, by Bryan Swistock - This fact sheet describes some of the common pollutants found in water supplies in Pennsylvania and their potential effect on dairy cows. It also discusses average water use by dairy cows and how water quality can impact water intake.
This spreadsheet allows you to estimate your daily water use on your farm using some simple inputs. Cells that are highlighted in yellow are cells that you can fill in with estimates from your farm (note that some yellow shaded cells may not apply to your farm operation - in those cases simply leave those cells blank). Cells that are shaded blue will be calculated for you based on your inputs. Your total farm water use will appear at the bottom of this spreadsheet. An example herd of 250 Holsteins is shown in the gray shaded area to the right.