Feed refusals: How much to feed for the highest efficiency

The increase in feed cost over the last several years is a significant concern to dairy farmers.   A recent survey conducted by ANC showed increasing feed cost was the number one concern of the producer’s we surveyed.   With the cost/lb. of dry matter in a lactating cow diet at approximately $0.15/lb, getting the most out of every lb. of feed fed is very important. If a pen of cows is averaging 50 lbs. of dry matter intake and are fed 55 lbs. of dry matter, (i.e. fed for 10% refusal) then they are fed 5 lbs. more dry matter than they consume.   If the TMR is valued at $0.15/lb of dry matter, this works out to be $0.75/cow/day of feed that is not being consumed! For a 100 cow herd this is well over $25,000 worth of feed in a year’s time!   Therefore, focusing on feed efficiency has become a priority on many dairies.   Feed efficiency considers how many lbs. of dry matter a cow eats and how many lbs. of fat corrected milk she produces.   In lactating cows, a feed efficiency of  less than 1.5 lbs. of fat corrected milk is desirable.   One might think that feeding cows in a manner that they consume 100% of the feed offered will result in the highest levels of feed efficiency, however researchers have shown that having some level of refusal in the bunk may generate the highest levels of feed efficiency.   A group of Italian researchers have demonstrated that herds that were fed to have some feed refusal got 4 to 8 lbs. more milk per cow...

Are Flies Biting Into Your Profits?

    Flies are a nuisance to people and animals.  They also can have a significant impact on animal health and productivity.   The estimated cost of flies to animal agriculture is several hundred million dollars annually! There are several different species of flies that affect cattle.  These are the most common:   Horn flies are a small biting fly that tend to rest on cattle and only leave to lay eggs unless they are disturbed.   Beef calves that have an average 200 or more horn flies nested on them wean 15 lbs. lighter than calves that have less than 100 horn flies.   Yearling steers have been shown to have a reduction in weight gain of 12 to 14% due to horn flies.       House and stable flies are nuisances associated with enclosed areas such as milking parlors, calf barns, and other buildings.   They also may transmit diseases to people.   Sanitization is a key strategy to managing their populations.   They breed in wet areas and prefer manure and bedding as places to lay eggs.   Removing these materials on a regular basis can help control their populations.       Face flies can carry diseases, including pink eye, from animal to animal.   Face flies feed on the moisture associated with tears, saliva, blood, and mucous.   Their bites may increase an animal’s susceptibility to become infected with a disease.    It is difficult to eliminate face flies with insecticides or other treatments because they spend little time on the animal.   They are best controlled with a comprehensive fly management plan.     Ways to control flies:  Regardless of...

4 common questions farmers ask nutritionists

Our Ration Analysts work with our ANC Independent Consultants and farmers on a daily basis to formulate the best possible rations for the producer’s goals.  I asked a few of our Ration Analysts about some of the most common nutrition questions they receive.  Most of the answers to these questions would be answered with the individual farm in mind, however listed below are the top four questions they address often, along with responses that could be applied to any farm.   1. How to increase milk production? Of course, there are so many answers to this question.   It varies with every farm depending on many factors such as forage quality and availability, ability to purchase additional feedstuffs, and management factors. Each scenario is different so it’s critical to evaluate every aspect of the operation to find the “shortest stave in the barrel” in order to properly identify where and how we can increase the opportunity for higher milk production while keeping cows healthy and increasing profitability. It’s important to work closely with your ANC independent consultant on ways to reach your individual herd goals.  2. How to decrease out-of-pocket costs and make the diet cheaper?    An inexpensive and profitable diet usually starts with quality highly digestible forages.  Quality can refer to the amount of protein, starch or NDF in a forage and it can be affected by storing conditions.  Manage forages by wrapping bunker side walls, inoculating the forage, using a bunker facer and Silo Stop, using quality kernel processing and only facing as much that will be fed that day will reduce shrink and improve the quality...

What’s that smell? The often overlooked MUN value

Remember the old saying, “Stop and smell the roses?” Well, in this case I’m not talking flowers.  I’m talking about the different smells on the farm. To some people, a farm, well, smells like a farm. But to farmers and nutritionists, different smells can mean different things.  A smell I want people to focus on for this article is the smell of ammonia. Farmers and nutritionists are always checking milk production pounds, butterfat, and protein percentage. But for some, another number is often overlooked: Milk Urea Nitrogen (MUN). In my experience, some farmers are unaware of the importance of this number and what it means to cow health, as well as their pocketbook. Excess protein in the diet will give off a strong ammonia smell. Protein is one factor that impacts MUN levels.  Extended exposure to high protein diets can lead to body weight loss and reproductive issues. I came upon this article written by Mike Hutjens and Larry Chase. This four page article does a really good job of explaining Milk Urea Nitrogen, and how it is an important number to monitor on dairy farms. Here are some key points from that article: Target MUN values are between 8 and 16 (Each herd will vary. I would recommend 8-12). Feed and management changes can effect MUN values. Fine tune MUN values by properly balancing for protein and carbohydrates. If you’re unsure of where your MUN levels should be, contact your ANC Consultant today to help you manage them.  ...

ANC Hires Two New Employees

We are pleased to announce that Burt Kullhem of Eau Claire, Wis. and Kristin Sprengeler of Westfield, Wis. have joined the ANC team. Burt has been hired as a Dairy Technical Specialist.  In this position, Burt will use his observation skills to draw out strengths and opportunities that he sees on-farm and will implement ways to deliver success for the farmer and for ANC Independent Consultants. Burt grew up on a dairy farm in Minnesota and received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota for animal science with a dairy emphasis. Some of his past experiences include operating his own dairy for 18 years, managing two large dairies in Minnesota and South Dakota, and working for a feed mill. Most recently, Burt worked in sales and tech support for regional mills and consultants. “Burt has a great deal of experience working with large herds. Not only has he filled the role of nutritional consultant but he also has been a large herd manager.  Therefore, he is uniquely skilled to help ANC provide a high level of service to our large herd clients,” said Dr. Scott Bascom, ANC Director of Technical Services. Kristin has been hired as a Dairy Specialist.  In this position, Kristin will be responsible for product support and sales and expanding ANC’s market presence. Kristin grew up on her family’s 90-cow registered Brown Swiss farm in Plato, Minn. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in dairy science and life sciences communication and recently moved to Westfield, Wis. “Kristin is passionate about the dairy industry.   She has a sincere desire to help dairy...