Case Study: A Nutritionist’s Strategy for Solving a Starch Discrepancy in the Delivered TMR

Written by: Kevin Buttles, MAT. PAS Sometimes it is easy to get lulled to sleep when there is not much going on at a client’s farm – forages are the same, no fresh cow problems, no real health problems, and components are right on target.  A closer look at the farm’s historical data and a frank discussion regarding goals and expectations with the herd owner revealed a recent slump, or at least a stall, in pounds of milk produced.  My first step was to take a TMR sample for analysis and to compare the results to the formulated diet.  We have all done that.  Many of the nutrients were right on, but when the results showed four whole percentage points less in starch (22.5% instead of 26.5%), I knew I had to attack this problem from multiple angles right away.  I implemented the following investigative strategies during the next six weeks to assess big picture items and to scrutinize the smallest of details. First I retested on-farm forages and HMSC and tested the purchased corn and starch containing commodities. Dry matters needed to be corrected. When I updated the diets, I juggled around different corn sources to take advantage of different starch fermentation rates. I closely evaluated RD starch, kd rates, CHO B3 pdNDF, and uNDF in the CNCPS model.  All seemed to be good. Then I utilized the oven-dried, 7hr lab procedure on the starch containing feeds to take advantage of one of the newer starch digestibility lab procedures to improve accuracy of reporting starch kd rates.  I felt confident that I was supplying sound nutrient data for...

Effective Fiber: Differences in Actual and Predicted peNDF

The goal in formulating and feeding dairy rations is to match the ration on paper to the ration the cow actually eats. Moisture changes in forages, forage changes, inaccurate scales, and lax mixing procedures are some of the reasons they are not the same. We can send in a TMR sample to the lab to measure protein , fiber, starch, mineral content, etc. to see how close the formulated ration and the TMR actually are. But how effective is this fiber in the rumen? Most ration programs give an estimate of peNDF (physical effective NDF). This estimation uses fiber levels of our feed ingredients to predict the ration contribution to an adequate rumen mat in the rumen. PeNDF predictions gives us an idea of changes in fiber contribution, but not a good measure of actual peNDF. We can use the Penn State Particle Separator to give use an actual peNDF value. There are three different versions with different calculations for each one. Measuring actual peNDF in TMRs 3 “screen” – 2 Sieves and a pan Add calculated percentage of top two sieves  plus 20% of bottom pan  and multiply by  the NDF of ration 4 “screen” – 3 sieves  (3rd sieve is a fine screen) and a pan Add calculated percentage of top two sieves plus 30% of 3rd sieve and multiply by NDF of the ration 4 “screen” with new 3rd sieve having 0.16 inch (4 mm) openings. This new screen was designed to measure peNDF. Add calculated percentage of top 3 screens and multiply by NDF of ration How close is the actual to the predicted?  If the actual peNDF is significantly lower than predicted peNDF, cow performance may be enhanced...

Weigel joins Agri-Nutrition Consulting as Dairy Nutrition Consultant

Megan Weigel of Edgar, WI has joined Agri-Nutrition Consulting (ANC) as a Dairy Nutrition Consultant in January 2017. Megan graduated from the University of Wisconsin River Falls with an animal science degree and has worked in the A.I. industry, primarily with large dairies on reproduction consulting.  Megan has a passion for helping farms become more profitable and has a diverse background in the animal industry. She enjoys showing horses and spending time on her own dairy farm. “We are pleased to have Megan Weigel join our professional team at Agri-Nutrition Consulting,” said Jay Hoffman, ANC Assistant General Manager. “She brings a vast experience in reproduction programming, analysis and computer skills for on-farm record programs. Megan will be working hands-on with her own clients, utilizing state-of-the-art ration balancing software and providing much needed support for today’s progressive dairies. Megan joined our growing team working to go beyond today and into the future.” To contact Megan and learn more about her services with ANC, contact...

Are you Ready for VFD?

Jan. 1, 2017 marks the beginning of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) regulations. These regulations were developed because of the concern over the use of feed grade antibiotics in production animal agriculture and the possible effects their use in animals may have on human health. The main goal of the VFD is to control the use of the “medically important” antibiotics that are used in both human and animal situations. Just as people must get a Doctor’s prescription to use an antibiotic, livestock producers will need to get a VFD from a licensed veterinarian to use these products on their operations. The antibiotics most commonly used in animal production that are covered under VFD regulations are: oxytetracycline, chlortetracycline, neomycin, penicillin, sulfamethazine, apramycin, avilmycin, erythromycin, florfenicol, hygromycin B, lincomycin, oleandomycin, sulfamethoxine/ornethoprin, sulfamerazine, tilmicosin, tylosin and virginiamycin. Oxytetracycline and neomycin are the most common of the “medically important” antibiotics used in milk replacers. Since the VFD regulations prohibit the continuous use of antibiotics, milk replacers containing these two antibiotics, or any other VFD antibiotic, will go off the market after Dec. 31, 2016. In order for a livestock producer to use products covered by VFD regulations the producer must get a valid VFD from a veterinarian licensed in the state where the operation is located. The veterinarian must have a valid veterinary‐patient‐client relationship with the operation. The VFD must list specific details including type of animal, approximate number of animals, name of the drug being used, drug indications, dosage and withdrawal time for the drug, and an expiration date of the VFD order. The VFD order cannot be...

What is the Price of Value-Added Service and Personal Relationships?

Written by: Chris Kuntz, Agri-Nutrition Consulting Nutrition Consultant Farmers have a lot of pride in providing the best quality product for the end consumer, while also being efficient to show a profit in the end.  As the profit margins get tight, many farmers initial thoughts are where to cut costs.  What we need to remember is, in order to be profitable in times of tight margins, efficiency must continue to increase and non-essentials must be cut from the budget. How do you decide the best way to adapt your operation to the changing economic times?  This is when you can leverage your personal relationship with your consultant to give you that third party, unbiased, and trusted guidance you have learned to rely on. Consultants who you have personal relationships with understand your individual farm, goals, and management practices and are motivated to help you think outside the box and sometimes make unforeseen improvements. For example, this could mean guiding you to new products or services that are best for your operation that you may not have thought of, and it may not even benefit the consultant directly. Through personal relationships with farmers, a consultant becomes privy to understanding the unique ways each farm operation gets through challenging hurdles.  Applying the lessons learned from many unique farm relationships, your consultant can help you find bottlenecks in your production efficiencies.  Furthermore, it is your consultant you can lean on to help prioritize the bottlenecks, get the best return on investment, or determine what could be most cost-effective in a low profit margin economic environment. So can you put a price on...

Keilen Joins Agri-Nutrition Consulting as Michigan Dairy Nutrition Consultant

Kristi Keilen of Westphalia, MI has joined Agri-Nutrition Consulting (ANC) as a Nutrition Consultant in September 2016. Kristi Keilen grew up in central Michigan where she attended Michigan State University to achieve her bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and Agronomy.  She has worked in dairy nutrition, seed sales/agronomy, grain buying, and as a calf specialist.   Kristi and her husband Matthew and their son Brody spend a lot of time on Matthew’s family’s dairy farm in Westphalia, MI, that they co-own together and milk around 450 cows. They also farm about 1900 acres and raise all of their own heifers on a separate farm.  Kristi also enjoys promoting the dairy industry and is involved in her local Farm Bureau. She is also a coordinator for Dairy Girl Network peer groups in Michigan. Kristi’s goal in her position with ANC is to make the dairy producer more profitable by analyzing the operation as a whole, and helping to fix any problems holding the farm back from being as profitable as possible.  She enjoys solving problems and figuring out the most economical way to fix them. “We are pleased to announce that Kristi has joined our team of professionals,” says Jay Hoffman, Assistant General Manager for Agri Nutrition Consulting.  “Kristi will be a leader for us in Michigan. Her vast experience and education in many aspects of dairying and agriculture will help us ‘Go Beyond’. Returning to her passion of ration balancing, and providing the complete picture drives her to set the bar high for her and our team. Because Kristi lives dairy farming every day, she will bring a unique dimension to...