Archive for Nutrition – Page 2

Dairy producers have a decision to make concerning close-up dry cow forages

Both wheat straw (left) and grass hay (right) can have varying amounts of potassium.

The importance of a good, dry cow period cannot be understated when it comes to having cows get off to a good start after calving. Many producers take a proactive approach to transition from the dry cow period into lactation by lowering the dietary cation-anion difference (DCAD) of the close-up ration. This is done to reduce risk of hypocalcemia and milk fever around calving.

Michigan State University Extension recommends feeding low or negative DCAD (meq per 100 grams of dry matter of K + Na – Cl – S) the last three weeks before calving through the use of low potassium (K) forages as one part of the DCAD management strategy. Two choices for low K forages that can be included in the close-up ration are either straw or low K grass hay. However, the first question producers need to ask themselves is, “Do I really need to use low K forages in my close-up ration?” Once this is answered, two economic questions arise, “Can I afford to grow low-K forages on my farm, or should I purchase these forages?”

Let’s consider the importance of the question, “Do I really need to use low-K forages in my close-up ration?” A USDA National Animal Health Monitoring System survey of U.S. dairy farms estimated that about 25 percent of first lactation and greater than 50 percent of third and greater lactation cows were subclinically hypocalcemic. Based on this survey, many farms may be having problems and if this is so, reducing the DCAD with low K forages plus anion supplementation can be a benefit on your farm.

The ensuing economic losses from higher veterinary costs and milk yield losses associated with metabolic disorders and lower dry matter intakes are a very real concern. Although there is not always a positive or negative milk response, research studies have reported milk yield increases of 6.8-18 percent where cows received supplemental anions to reduce the DCAD compared to cows fed a control diet. Given the current Michigan milk price, there’s plenty of economic incentive to have cows get off to a good start. To produce anionic diets, producers should use low K grass hay that is less than 2.5 percent K to lower the total dietary K. However, the lower the percent K, the better.

Purchasing or growing forages for a specific segment of the dairy is not an easy question to answer. The option of growing low K grass hay is a double-edged sword; the needs of the dry cow for K is less than what it takes to maintain a vigorous and persistent stand of grass. This may mean that you need to manage your grass stands specifically for dry cow feed to get the maximum benefit of homegrown, low K grass hay. Cool season grasses are luxury consumers of K, which means they will take up more than they need if it is readily available. Therefore, manure applications should be avoided and the use of K fertilizer should be limited since both will increase soil and plant levels of K.

Research from Cornell University showed that if soil K is high, N fertilization will increase forage K concentration. Once excess available soil K is removed, however, the opposite trend occurs. If soil K is low, N fertilization will decrease forage K concentration. One or two seasons of high N fertilization will remove excess soil K.

Spring forage generally has a higher concentration of K than regrowth. Also, the concentration of K in grass forage declines as the plant matures. Two approaches can be used when cutting grass hay. First, if producers wait for the grasses to mature, this normally means you will only have one cutting of low K grass hay during the growing season. Second, you could harvest first cutting early and use the regrowth for dry cows as it will be lower in K, but this strategy would sacrifice total yield for lower K.

Timothy grass normally has less K than other cool season grasses such as orchardgrass. However, it should be noted that if you have very high soil test levels of K in your fields, the crop will take up higher amounts as well and can exceed 3.5 percent K. This is also true for corn silage, wheat straw and other cool season grasses. Therefore, it’s a must to have a feed test done for all close-up ration forages to find out whether the forage falls into a range that is sufficiently low enough in K to properly balance rations.

Another consideration for buying or growing low K grass hay is the cost of land rent. Many areas of Michigan may have higher land rents that make the price unattractive. Using the example below in Figure 1 from the MSU Farm Financial Management website and the Forage Crop Enterprise Template, a producer would need to be able to produce 2 tons of dry matter forage on land with a rental price of $100 per acre or less in order to compete with the price of straw delivered to the farm for $135 per ton. Using the template provided on the website, producers can use their own farm input prices to calculate the maximum price their land rent prices need to be in order to compete with straw.

Figure 1. Forage Crop Enterprise Template for grass hay from MSU Extension

If producers are able to produce more than 2 tons of dry matter per acre, they could possibly sell the grass hay as an opportunity crop to other animal producers where K levels in the hay are not as important. Current prices for high quality grass hay are ranging from $140 to $300 per ton.

Depending on the wheat harvested, an additional crop of wheat straw harvested from the field can yield 0.75-1.25 tons per acre. The loss of organic matter may be a significant factor when determining if you are selling your straw crop in the future. Current prices for wheat straw in the Thumb region of Michigan range from $125 to $160 per ton. Other factors such as freight, time of purchase, or whether the straw is in large or small square bales will also affect the price. As wheat acreages fluctuate from year-to-year, availability becomes more important, so if you are a consistent user of wheat straw in your dry cow rations, make sure your local supply will be adequate.

Whatever your circumstances as a dairy producer, the question about using a low K grass hay or straw in your close-up rations may only be the first of many questions related to the complex topic area of whether to buy or grow your dry cow forages.

Source: Michigan State University Extension

Ration management: Tips to be proactive versus reactive

PurinaWhen it comes to managing rations for dairy cows, it is always better to be proactively making decisions versus reactively. That’s according to Dr. Dwight Roseler, a dairy nutritionist with Purina Animal Nutrition in Ohio.

Roseler notes that evaluating feedstuffs with proper methods and having a ration model that predicts performance accurately are critical when looking into the crystal ball for future herd performance. “You want to be prepared and know what to expect from the forages and total ration that is going to be fed,” says Roseler. “Being proactive and looking ahead allows the opportunity to make better decisions about ration costs and income over feed cost.”

For example, if a herd is targeting a certain level of milk production and it knows through proper testing that those forages on hand are not adequate to maintain or achieve that production level, then a decision is needed to determine the best cost ration to achieve the most profit for the operation. In some cases, forages or byproducts can be purchased that complement the existing inventory to achieve best profit. Depending upon market conditions, the best profit scenario might be to feed the current inventory of forages and feeds.

Outside of just overall animal health and milk production potential, evaluating feeds ahead of time, can also help with budgeting and inventories. “Running the correct feed analysis at harvest can help decide how current inventories will be best used. Then running “best profit” rations into future months will determine strategies for optimal cash flow and profit,” he says.

Feed and forage testing
With a multitude of tests available to assist in evaluating forages and byproducts, it can be a challenge to determine which tests to run to make the best decisions. Here is a look at some of the tests and what insights they may offer when formulating rations and projecting budgets. The frequency of testing will depend upon herd size and bunker/silo size.


· Rumen degradable starch
Rumen degradable starch measures how much starch is actually available to the rumen microbes when the feed is fed. Rumen degradable starch tests give producers an idea of how their animals are digesting starch and what impact that might have on performance. The labs using the Calibrate® Technologies methods are accurate for predicting performance over time.

· Neutral detergent fiber digestibility
Neutral detergent fiber digestibility determines how digestible the fiber in an ingredient will be and as a result how much rumen fill there will be. Rumen fill has a direct impact on dry matter intake (DMI), diet digestibility and feed efficiency. In fact, research shows that a one unit increase in in-vitro digestibility of neutral detergent fiber (NDF) was associated with a 0.37 pound per day increase in DMI and a 0.55 pound per day increase in 4 percent fat corrected milk yield per cow.[1] The Calibrate® Technologies method provides good measurements of fiber indigestibility for accurate performance prediction over time.

· VFA analysis & ammonia
Volatile fatty acids analysis gives producers an idea of what the fermentation has done in the silo, in terms of proper fermentation levels, and is useful in predicting the performance in terms of rumen microbial performance and milk protein production. Excess ammonia from forages can be wasted if not properly balanced across all the diets in a herd.

· Amino acids
Balancing diets for amino acids takes precedence over balancing metabolizable protein or crude protein. Accurate amino acid profiles of proteins and byproducts provides knowledge to properly balance low protein (14 to 15 percent) diets with milk urea nitrogen (MUN) tank levels below 10. This improves protein purchases and reduces nitrogen losses.

· Fatty acids
Fatty acids provide a more accurate measure of true digestible energy coming from the fat of forages and ingredients. Fatty acid profile improves the ability to balance poly-unsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) load which has a bearing on reproductive performance and milk fat yield.

“Evaluating feedstuffs prior to feeding will help to optimize your rations for optimal health, milk components, income over feed cost and overall profit potential,” says Roseler.

For more information, contact Dr. Dwight Roseler at (330) 466-2776 or email:

For additional information on dairy nutrition and management, sign-up to receive the monthly HERDSMART® E-Newsletter; a free online tool to improve operational efficiency by visiting:

Purina Animal Nutrition LLC ( is a national organization serving producers, animal owners and their families through more than 4,700 local cooperatives, independent dealers and other large retailers across the United States. Driven by an uncompromising commitment to animal excellence, Purina Animal Nutrition is an industry innovator, offering America’s leading brands of complete feeds, supplements, premixes, ingredients and specialty technologies for the livestock and lifestyle animal markets. Headquartered in Shoreview, Minn., Purina Animal Nutrition LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O’Lakes, Inc.

Calculate Feed Levels Now to Adjust Ration, Crop Plans

Forage Insights pictureAbout this time of year, many dairy and beef producers take a look at their feed stockpiles and wonder how long they will last.

Dairy and livestock specialists from DuPont Pioneer recommend that producers determine the volume of feed currently on hand. First, producers need to measure their storage structures and the remaining height of the feed column. The next step is to measure the actual density of the feed with a silage density probe, or to use a commonly accepted estimated value.

By multiplying the volume in cubic feet by the density, producers can calculate the approximate pounds dry matter (DM) of feed on hand. Dividing that result by 2,000 pounds will calculate the DM tons of feed. Producers can convert to as-fed tons by dividing DM tons by the feedstuffs’ dry matter percentage. They should also include an estimate of the percentage of dry matter lost during storage (shrink) as part of the calculation. The result is the amount of feed in storage. Armed with this information, producers can answer the following key questions:

  • Are any ration adjustments are required?
  • Is there a need for an emergency forage source to help cover gaps between old-crop corn silage and new-crop corn silage that is fully fermented and ready to be fed?
  • What are the options for forage products?
  • What feedstuffs need to be produced — and at what quality?
  • What inventory levels are needed this year?

Cropping plans can be adjusted, for example, to take one cutting of alfalfa and then plant shorter-season corn for silage.

Producers should remember to follow all safety protocols when working in front of silage faces, as shifts in the feed can happen.

For more information on estimating and managing feed levels, please contact your local Pioneer sales professional.

Decision-Making Tools Speed Discoveries from UW Labs to Dairy Farms

Victor CabreraVictor Cabrera isn’t an expert in cattle genomics or reproduction. He hasn’t spent a day in a lab running tests on the nutritional content of feed. In fact, Cabrera, associate professor in the University of Wisconsin-Madison dairy science department, spends most of his time in front of a screen building economic modeling programs.

If you didn’t know better, you might think he was in the wrong department. But Cabrera is right where he belongs. He shares one crucial thing in common with the rest of the department’s faculty: He’s working to help farmers get more from their dairies.

“I do a lot of my research on a computer, making simulations where I try to put a dollar value on reproductive programs, or nutrition protocols, or the adoption of new advancements and see if it makes [financial] sense or not,” Cabrera explains.

The result is a suite of online programs that Cabrera offers for free on his Extension website ( These “decision support tools” evaluate the costs and potential benefits of just about any change a farmer might be considering. The site offers more than 50 such tools, with titles like “Grouping Strategies for Feeding Lactating Dairy Cattle,” or “Exploring Timing of Pregnancy Impact on Income Over Feed Cost.”

Those titles might bewilder those outside of dairy circles, but for farmers, the decision tools are roadmaps to best dairy practices.

“When we recruited Victor, we really wanted someone who could work with virtually everyone in the department to bring a science-based economic structure into the dairy farm decision process,” says Pamela Ruegg, dairy science professor and Extension milk quality specialist. And, she says, that’s exactly what he’s done, putting UW-Madison research into the day-to-day operations of a dairy.

That’s not to say it’s been easy. Changing the way things get done on a farm is a major undertaking, Cabrera says. Farmers are loath to tweak something they’ve been doing for decades if they’re not confident that it will improve profits and efficiency.

“Situations on the farm change constantly, and that means the ‘right’ decisions aren’t always the same,” Cabrera says. “My programs allow farmers to define their own conditions with their own data, making sure the resulting decision will fit their specific system.”

The idea of dairy farmers as computer modelers may seem like a stretch to some. But, in fact, it’s like all the other new technologies—like GPS-guided precision nutrient application or robotic milkers—that they’re adopting to cope with economic uncertainty and thin profit margins. And even if a farmer isn’t interested in Cabrera’s online tools, it’s likely that someone else—an extension agent, consultant, nutritionist or veterinarian—will use them to plan for that farm’s future.

In 2013, Cabrera’s simulations and models helped 1,300 different users each month, and that number is growing. That’s great for the dairy science department as well as the farmer, says department chair Kent Weigel, because it helps funnel new knowledge directly from the lab to the farm.

“If my research leads to a discovery in the area of dairy cattle genomics, I can publish the results in journal or show them at a scientific meeting and hope that someone takes the next steps,” Weigel says. “But if I collaborate with Victor, there is a pretty good chance my work will get used effectively and help improve the profitability of dairy farms.”

Since arriving in Madison six years ago as an assistant professor, Cabrera’s efforts to connect research with extension outreach have exceeded the goals that had been set for his position. Now, newly promoted to tenure status, he wants to help usher in the next big phase of online tools.

“Whether they completely embrace computers or not, farmers are using more data analysis and software on their farms,” Cabrera says. Most farm equipment comes with software installed these days, but none of the information that software generates is “centralized” to provide the big picture of the farm as a whole. “That should be something that changes,” he says. “It will all have to somehow be connected and, hopefully, my lab will help with that connection.”

New tool analyzes rations to cut costs, reduce carbon footprint

Alltech is launching a new support tool for nutritionists to evaluate and troubleshoot dairy rations to maximize feed efficiency and combat ever-rising feed costs, and estimate the amount of energy lost as methane and methane emissions per animal. The In Vitro Fermentation Model (IFM) is a diagnostic tool that simulates rumen fermentation and evaluates the nutritive value of total mixed rations (TMR) in terms of digestibility and end-products formation.

“Available nutrition services traditionally provide measurements of chemical composition and digestibility, however this information is static and does not provide complete evaluation of nutrient availability,” said Dr. Kamal Mjoun, research scientist at the Alltech IFM Lab in Brookings, SD. “IFM is a more dynamic diagnostic tool that describes the chemical process of feed digestion rather than final measurement of digestibility.”

Using IFM technology, feed samples are incubated within a standardized rumen fluid and a buffer system to mimic natural rumen fermentation in an oxygen-free environment. IFM then measures gas production, identifies TMR inefficiencies and provides additional information on the nutritive value of the feed.

“This single test provides more accurate, informed recommendations to optimize feed in a relatively short period of time and at a lower cost compared with in vivo evaluations,” said Dr. Amanda Gehman, dairy research scientist at Alltech.

As digestion progresses, volumes of fermentation gases such as methane and carbon dioxide are also continuously monitored using an automated system.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the rumen, primarily methane and carbon dioxide, contribute up to 45% of the total carbon footprint associated with the production of a pound of milk or beef, according to a recent article published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  Moreover Alltech’s researchers are now finding that ration composition and forage quality can significantly impact the volume of methane emitted as well as production efficiency.

The Carbon Trust, an organization that measures and certifies the environmental footprint of organizations, supply chains and products, recently verified that IFM is an effective tool for estimating farm-specific enteric methane emission from specific feeds.

“With IFM we can troubleshoot potential problems and develop supplementation strategies, which are tailored to the customer’s feeding programs, ultimately to optimize dairy efficiency and profitability while minimizing the effects on the environment,” said Dr. Karl Dawson, chief scientific officer at Alltech.

For more information on how to submit a TMR sample to the IFM Lab, please contact

Importance of calcium and phosphorus in the ruminant diet

Calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) are two of the most abundant minerals in the body, which is why they are vital to the discussion of feed testing and ration balancing for cattle. The importance of these minerals and the role they play in the body can help ranchers understand why a balanced mineral program is a notch in the key to success.

Due to the abundance of these minerals in the body, it is important to understand the function and how to meet requirements to insure that deficiencies and toxicities are not a concern. The main function of both calcium and phosphorus is skeletal. Nearly 99% of the calcium in the body if found in the skeleton, while 80% of the phosphorus is in bones and teeth. The remaining Ca is extracellular and plays a role in nerve conduction, muscle contraction, blood clotting and immune system activation. The remaining P is involved in energy utilization and transfer, acid-base and osmotic balance, and for cattle is required by ruminal microbes for growth and cellular metabolism.

Rarely is there a need to be concerned with toxicity of Ca or P in the diet; however deficiencies can occur at different times throughout the production cycle of cows, depending on the feed source. In general, forages provide adequate amounts of Ca in the diet, especially if there are legumes in the mix. Times when we are most likely to see a Ca deficiency is shortly after calving when the cow’s Ca loss due to lactation exceeds Ca entry. Depending on time of year, this can be exacerbated due to low Ca levels in forage. Low diet Ca will lead to Ca being taken from the bone reserve. This is commonly referred to as milk fever or tetany. If suspected, consult a veterinarian.

In growing cattle diets it becomes even more critical to test feeds and balance minerals accordingly, as they have a higher requirement for Ca and concentrate feeds typically used in backgrounding or finishing are lower in Ca than forages.

On the other hand, phosphorus deficiency is the most prevalent deficiency throughout the world, as forages, which are the primary feed for ruminants, are a poor source of P. A P deficiency can lead to many problems including reduced growth and feed efficiency, decreased appetite, reduced reproduction efficiency, decreased milk production, and weak or fragile bones (rickets).

When balancing rations, it is often stated that the Ca:P ratio needs to be 2:1, but this is overstated and anything from a 1.1:1 to a 7:1 ratio is acceptable, with optimal being 1.75:1. Due to the abundance of these minerals in the body, it is important to understand their function and know what the implications are for not meeting an animal’s nutrient requirements. Requirements vary based on animal class, size, and stage of production. Below is a snapshot of Ca and P requirements of cows, replacement heifers and calves taken from the Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle.

Source: South Dakota State University Extension

Dairy Nutrition. The K.I.S.S. of Wealth!

Thinking of our personal health and hearing the term ‘nutrition’, you might be motivated to eat more vegetables.  That’s simple and we all like the K.I.S.S. (keep it sweet and simple) principle.

Dairy Breeding is Simple Too

All you have to do is pick the right dairy breed, the right dairy genetics and, at least occasionally, manage to have Mother Nature and the marketplace somewhat on your side and it follows that you will produce buckets of milk and be the proud owner of a sustainable dairy business.  And that’s exactly why we more often face the O.U.C.H. syndrome – Overworked Underproducing Cattle Herds. Why is it that, with all the technology, science and passion at our fingertips, we are missing something?
nutrition consultant scott b

They Are What They Eat!

Cows eat every day.  Cows are milked every day.  It would seem to follow that those simple, daily actions could be the key to simplifying our dairy success.  Perhaps dairy breeders are missing opportunities and should seek expert help from nutrition consultants. After all, meeting production, herd health and economic goals directly affects the profitability of every dairy herd. The tricky part is that every dairy operation has unique issues that must be considered as part of the nutrition solution.

Why Bother With a Nutrition Consultant?

Scott B_ppAn effective nutrition consultant will investigate and analyze all the issues impacting your cows and thus impacting your success.  The Bullvine went to Dr. Scott Bascom to get some insight on the value of working with a nutrition consultant.  Dr. Bascom is the Director of Technical Services at Agri-Nutrition Consulting, Inc. (ANC) (Read more articles about animal nutrition by Dr. Bascom). He confirms “nutrition consultants can design a customized feeding program to meet their client’s specific goals and make the best use of the resources they have on the farm, and are skilled at feeding cows, heifers, and dry cows in a manner that will keep them healthy and highly productive.”  However his years of experience starting at college have given him a wider viewpoint.   While in college he attended a lecture given by Dr. Paul Chandler.   Chandler shared,  “There are many reasons beyond economics that a nutritional consultant provides value.” He feels that one of the best resources that a good nutrition consultant can develop is in maximizing the human side. “You have days when you are also a financial advisor, psychologist, marriage counselor and a loyal friend.” He continues, “At the time I didn’t comprehend what Dr. Chandler meant but now I recognize that he was telling us we would have to go beyond our skill in nutrition to develop a high level of trust with our clients if we were going to be successful.”

Not Just a Quick Fix. And BORING is good too!

The very nature of dairy breeding has conditioned breeders to the fact that any process we implement or change we make must be undertaken not as a short term fix but with a view to profitability for many years to come.  Changes are both feared and welcomed. Feared because they’re never easy.  Welcomed because of the potential for improvement. Dr. Bascom has a somewhat unconventional view of change as it relates to nutrition. “With my clients I am striving for BORING.  I want a boring ration that never changes because we feed the same thing all the time.  I want cows that are BORING because they are healthy, comfortable and get bred in a timely fashion. I want my herd visits to be BORING because we have no major issue to consider. My point is the goal is to get our clients to a place where we are meeting our goals and rarely need to make any big changes.  At this point we make very minor adjustments when we need to make a change.  The cows are happy, the producer is happy, and I am happy.”

From the Bunker to the Bank!

We spend research dollars to identify a cow’s genes to the smallest snippet.  We spend millions of dollars on the cow with the best dairy conformation. But we can’t agree on what to feed her at the bunker. Dr. Bascom feels that dairy nutrition is economically imperative. “The producer that isn’t working with a nutritionist has a lot as risk financially.  The value of feed fed to a lactating cow can be $8 or more per day. For a 100 cow herd the value of feed fed in a year is well over $250,000!  With feed costs so high, optimizing income over feed cost becomes critical. He backs up the statistics with personal experience. “When ANC picks up a new client that was not using a nutritional consultant prior to me, it is not unusual for us to increase income over feed cost by $0.25/cow/day. This adds up to a significant increased annual income.”

Keep Your Money Growing Just for You

“Another significant reason to work with a nutritional consultant is that they can bring new ideas to the farm.  Consultants are exposed to a diverse range of information including what we learn from other clients, trade shows, continuing education, and other people in our support network.  Part of our job as an advisor is to filter through all this information and bring back to our clients what is most applicable to their situation?”

How to Increase Milk Production

As I write this, I begin to see that the practice of nutrition is like the practice of medicine.  Being blessed with both an animal nutritionist and a medical doctor in the family, it is increasingly clear to me that the really good practitioners in either field are the ones who not only understand the science but can put it into practice.  Dr. Bascom readily is a storehouse of working examples derived from dairy nutrition consulting. “Let’s talk about increasing income over feed cost. Often this includes increasing milk production.   However, too often we can fall into the trap of pushing for higher milk production in a way that isn’t profitable. When we decide that higher milk production is the key to increasing income over feed cost then we look at forage quality, cow comfort, facilities, and a variety of management factors to decide how to reach this goal.   The answer is different on every farm.    For example if I have a client that has average days in milk of 250 days then we are not going to increase milk production until we improve reproduction.  On the other hand, a client that is overstocking their facilities might experience an immediate increase in milk per cow and total milk shipped by culling out some of their bottom end cows thus improving cow comfort for the rest of the herd.”

What Does Quality Cost?

In polling dairy breeders who do not use consultants, the number one reason given is that either the consultant or the feed program will be too expensive.  Dr. Bascom appreciates the opportunity to answer this concern. “Again, we start by talking about income over feed cost!  Sometimes decreasing out –of-pocket costs drops income over feed cost! The answer to this question is to look for ways to make the best use of the resources available on the farm.   We ask questions like, are we getting the most value out of the forages we are feeding? Are we feeding commodities that are competitively priced? Are we wasting feed?” Too often we measure financial success by decreased input dollars.  Sometimes we have to spend a little to make more.  A key learning to internalize is that you can waste money just as easily on excessive quality as you can on deficient quality.  Optimum quality is the goal.

Let’s Ruminate on Components!

“In most cases increasing components will increase income over feed cost.  The exception would be in markets that don’t pay premiums for high component milk. Low components could be an indication of cow health issues.   So fat and protein tests are something I watch closely.

The first step in high component milk is about feeding a healthy rumen. Forage quality is paramount.   We need high quality forages to optimize rumen health. So the first step is to make sure forage quality is optimum.  We also balance carbohydrates and degradable protein to encourage rumen health. The rumen bugs produce very high quality protein that drives both milk yield and components. After we have designed a diet for optimum rumen health and to maximize the production of high quality protein by the rumen then we look at additives. These would include bypass protein sources and rumen protected amino acids.”

Beyond the Basics to Practical and Personal

One of the most rewarding aspects of being connected to the dairy industry is hearing stories such as the ones Dr. Bascom shared with us.  “Years ago I worked with a dairyman in the southeastern part of the US that told me I got more milk for him than anyone else. I was only able to get his cows to 50 lbs. of milk but he was close to 30 when we started. This won’t get me on the cover of a major dairy magazine but to him it was a really big deal.”  Of course there are times ANC’s client’s success has meant rising to a challenge. “One of my ANC clients challenged me to feed as much forage as we could feed to his cows and maintain healthy cows, production at 75 lbs. of milk, and high components.    We were able to get the diet up to 82% forage as a percent of dry matter.   We maintained milk at 75 lbs., fat test over 4.0%, protein at 3.3%, cut purchased feed costs, cow health improved, and reproductive performance improved.  I didn’t think we could take the forage to this level without losing milk!”  Every client has different goals, says Bascom. “Several years ago I started working with a new client that markets embryos.   The goals were to maintain fat test at 4.0%, protein at 3.4%, and cut purchased feed cost. We made adjustments to the diet to feed more of their homegrown forages to cut purchased feed cost. We also added a liquid feed to the ration and made some adjustments in how the TMR was mixed.  Not only did we save money but the cows came up in both protein and fat test. This put more money in the milk check and also made more cows in the herd eligible for the foreign embryo market.”

ROF is Good. Return on Relationship (ROR) is Great.

It doesn’t matter what facet of the dairy industry you work in, you’re going to find passionate people.  Dr. Bascom is one of them. “I love cows,” says this ANC consultant and adds, “Following a career in nutrition allows me to be around cows and people who love cows.”  And that is a key motivator for him. “The cow success stories are rewarding but perhaps the most rewarding experiences are the people success stories. I have celebrated weddings and the birth of children with my clients. I have watched their children grow-up and find their way into the dairy operation. I have cried tears at the loss of their loved ones. These experiences are just as rewarding as celebrating high rolling herd averages, the sale of bulls into AI, All-American nominations, and high classification scores. This is very much a people business and it is so rewarding to gain the trust of my clients in a way that they want to share good times and the hard times in life with me.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

We can all identify with the passion that makes a career in dairying the focus of our daily lives.  However, we can’t let rose colored glasses cause us to limit our dairy herd success.  Dairy nutrition consultants help us to investigate and discover ways to overcome unnecessary or unseen obstacles.  So that leaves the Simple Question: “Why bother with nutrition consultants?”  And leads to the Simple Answer:  “You can’t afford not to.”

Get original “Bullvine” content sent straight to your email inbox for free.


Send this to a friend