Phosphorus Best Management Practices Fact Sheets

What Is SERA-17?

SERA-17(Organization to Minimize Phosphorus Losses from Agriculture) is an organization of national and international research scientists, policy makers, extension personnel, and educators. The mission of SERA-17 is to develop and promote innovative solutions to minimize phosphorus losses from agriculture by supporting:

  • information exchange between research, extension, and regulatory communities
  • recommendations for phosphorus management and research
  • initiatives that address phosphorus loss in agriculture

One initiative of SERA-17 has been to develop a series of thirty-two best management practice (BMP) factsheets. These fact sheets were published in 2005. The BMPs can broadly be divided into three groups:

  1. BMPs that have an impact on the type or source of phosphorus (Source BMPs),
  2. BMPs that affect the transport of phosphorus (Transport BMPs), and
  3. BMPs that have an impact on both the source and transport of phosphorus (Source and Transport BMPs).

The list of topics in this series will continue to expand, as new research and technologies demonstrate further possible reductions in phosphorus losses.

SERA-17 Phosphorus BMP Factsheets

These publications are on the SERA-17 website under BMP Workgroup Publications. The following links will take you directly to each fact sheet.

Author

Forbes Walker, University of Tennessee

Phosphorus Mass Balance on Livestock and Poultry Operations

Introduction

This fact sheet has been developed to support the implementation of the Natural Resources Conservation Service Feed Management 592 Practice Standard. The Feed Management 592 Practice Standard was adopted by NRCS in 2003 as another tool to assist with addressing resource concerns on livestock and poultry operations. Feed management can assist with reducing the import of nutrients to the farm and reduce the excretion of nutrients in manure.

Please check this link first if you are interested in organic or specialty dairy production

The Natural Resources Conservation Service has adopted a practice standard called Feed Management (592) and is defined as “managing the quantity of available nutrients fed to livestock and poultry for their intended purpose”. The national version of the practice standard can be found in a companion fact sheet entitled An Introduction to Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Feed Management Practice Standard 592. Please check in your own state for a state-specific version of the standard.

Mass balance is calculated as the difference between imported and exported mass across the farm boundary. Estimating mass balance can provide critical information for (comprehensive) nutrient management planning and to manage the movement of nutrients and manure. Estimation of whole-farm P mass balance is used to determine the acres of land needed for crop production to use manure P. Environmental risk to surface and ground waters is increased if the amount of P imported into the farm (e.g., from fertilizers, feeds, and animals) exceeds the amount of P exported from the farm (e.g., crops, animals, manure, milk, meat, eggs, and fibers).

In Table 1 are estimates of P excretion derived by mass balance calculations using standard diets, animal performance, and the acres needed for land application at a crop removal rate of 50 pounds P2O5/acre per year. Mass balance estimates vary among farms, depending upon specific inputs and outputs, and should be calculated specifically for each farm when doing nutrient management planning.

Table 1. Examples of annual phosphate (P2O5) excretion and acreage needed for various livestock enterprises per 1,000 head of production to maintain zero P mass balance (imported P = exported P) annually.
Livestock Enterprise Pounds P2O5 Acres needed
Growing-finishing beef 17,500 350
Horses 22,000 440
Lactating dairy cows 86,000 1,720
Dairy heifers 27,000 540
Laying hens 1,200 24
Cow-calf beef 48,000 960
Sheep 13,500 270
Swine breeding herd with phytase 37,000 740
Swine growing-finishing with phytase 3,600 72
Turkeys with phytase 1,300 26

Ways to affect P mass balance

Farms may consider moving manure off site to reduce P mass balance if not enough acreage is available. Additionally, potential feeding strategies to reduce P balance (and excretion), feed costs, and necessary land base include the following:

  1. Routinely complete laboratory analyses of feeds and re-balance rations as needed to meet animals’ P requirements.
  2. Formulate rations to meet the animal’s P requirements for maintenance, lactation, growth, and pregnancy. In general for a lactating Holstein cow, 1 gram of P for each pound of milk produced is sufficient to meet these combined requirements. Based on this, ration P should equal 0.32 to 0.38% in DM depending on feed intake and milk yield (NRC, 2001). Greater concentrations are not necessary unless feed intake is depressed.
  3. Beef and dairy cattle rations may not need P supplementation at all to meet the animals’ requirements if basal ration ingredients have high P concentrations. Discontinuing P supplementation may reduce land base required by 25 to 50% (depending on the amount of over-supplementation in the original feeding program).
  4. If typical rations (e.g., corn silage, soybean meal, alfalfa, and corn grain) contain more P than needed to meet requirements, and if land base is limiting, alternative feedstuffs should be considered. The cost of using alternative feedstuffs may be less than the cost of using common “least-cost” feeds and managing excess manure P.
  5. Swine and poultry are able to absorb only part of the P in diets, so formulate based on “available P.” Grains for swine and poultry can vary from 14 to 50% in available P. In contrast, over 90% of ration P is available to cattle and sheep due to rumen microbial phytase.
  6. Supplemental phytase in corn-soybean meal based-diets for swine and poultry increases the P availability so that 25 to 35% less total ration P is needed.
  7. Pelleting and reducing the particle size of rations can increase the efficiency of P use by swine and poultry by 5 to 10%.
  8. Formulating rations for specific production phases, genotypes and genders. “Phase- feeding” programs for growing swine, poultry and lactating dairy cows can reduce P imports and excretion at least by 5 to 10%.

References

National Research Council. 2001. Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle. 7th rev. ed. Natl. Acad. Sci., Washington, DC.

“Extension programs and policies are consistent with federal and state laws and regulations on nondiscrimination regarding race, sex, religion, age, color, creed, national or ethnic origin; physical, mental or sensory disability; marital status, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era or disabled veteran. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local Extension office.”

 

Disclaimer

This fact sheet reflects the best available information on the topic as of the publication date. Date 5-25-2007

This Feed Management Education Project was funded by the USDA NRCS CIG program. Additional information can be found at Feed Management Publications.

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This project is affiliated with the LPELC.

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Project Information

Detailed information about training and certification in Feed Management can be obtained from Joe Harrison, Project Leader, jhharrison@wsu.edu, or Becca White, Project Manager, rawhite@wsu.edu.

Author Information

David Beede
C.E. Meadows Professor
beede@msu.edu
Dale Rozeboom
Associate Professor
rozeboom@msu.edu
Department of Animal Science
Michigan State University

Reviewer Information

Brian Perkins – Consulting Nutritionist

Katherine Knowlton – Virginia Tech

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Understanding Nitrogen Utilization in Dairy Cattle

Contents


Introduction

This fact sheet has been developed to support the implementation of the Natural Resources Conservation Service Feed Management 592 Practice Standard. The Feed Management 592 Practice Standard was adopted by NRCS in 2003 as another tool to assist with addressing resource concerns on livestock and poultry operations. Feed management can assist with reducing the import of nutrients to the farm and reduce the excretion of nutrients in manure.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service has adopted a practice standard called Feed Management (592) and is defined as “managing the quantity of available nutrients fed to livestock and poultry for their intended purpose”. The national version of the practice standard can be found in a companion fact sheet entitled “An Introduction to Natural Resources Feed Management Practice Standard 592”. Please check in your own state for a state-specific version of the standard.

Nitrogen (N) is the building block of proteins in feeds and forages. Protein is typically the most expensive component of the purchased feeds used in dairy rations. Nitrogen is also receiving more attention as a component of nutrient management plans on dairy farms and potential ammonia emissions.

Understanding how N is used in dairy cattle is important in improving both profitability and decreasing excretion from the cow into the environment. It is important to remember that dairy cows do not have a protein requirement. They really need amino acids available in the small intestine to support tissue growth and milk production. Basically, N utilization in dairy cattle is composed of two components. The first is providing an adequate supply of N and carbohydrates in the rumen to support the growth of rumen microorganisms and the production of microbial crude protein (MCP). The second part of the system is the utilization of amino acids in the small intestine to provide for the needs of the cow.

Please check this link first if you are interested in organic or specialty dairy production

Definitions

N = nitrogen; CP = crude protein; NPN =nonprotein nitrogen; TDN = total digestible nutrients; MP = metabolizable protein; MCP = microbial crude protein; SP = soluble protein; RDP = rumen degradable protein; RUP = rumen undegradable protein; NRC = National Research Council

Feed Nitrogen Fractions

Even though all feeds contain N, there is variation in the quantity of N in each feed and it’s availability and utilization in the dairy cow. Forage testing laboratories determine the quantity of N in the sample and multiply this value by 6.25 to obtain the crude protein (CP) value printed on the analysis report. This calculation assumes that feeds contain 16% N on a dry matter (DM) basis. An example calculation is:

Alfalfa silage = 3% N * 6.25 = 18.75% CP (both on a DM basis)

The challenge is that feeds could have the same CP value, but have a different feeding value to the dairy cow. Consider the following examples:

Alfalfa hay, alfalfa silage and alfalfa pasture – All 20% CP.

Raw and roasted soybeans – Both with 40% CP

Even though these feeds have the same CP level, we would not expect the same level of N utilization and milk production. If we are feeding 4 pounds/cow/day of raw soybeans to a dairy cow producing 80 pounds of milk, replacing these with 4 pounds of roasted soybeans would increase predicted milk production on a protein basis by 2-3 lbs. What is the reason for this?

One reason is that there are a number of N compounds found in feeds. This means that we need to better define the types of N compounds present in feeds. A simple to start is to classify feed N as either true protein or NPN. These can be defined as:

True protein = The N in feeds found in complex and linked structures as amino acid combinations. Examples are: albumins, globulins and amino acids. These feeds will vary in both the rate and extent of degradation that occurs in the rumen.

NPN = This is the N in simple compounds such as ammonia or urea (not as amino acids). These are considered to be rapidly available in the rumen.

The above breakdown is a start, but the true protein component needs to be better defined for use in ration formulation or evaluation programs. This is most commonly done in the following manner:

RDP = that portion of the total N intake that is degraded in the rumen. The NPN fraction is included in RDP.

RUP = that portion of the total N that is not degraded in the rumen and passes intact to the small intestine. There is a portion of the RUP fraction that is not available or digested in the small intestine and passes out in the feces. This is fraction C in the system described by Van Soest (1994).

Ruminal N Metabolism

A portion of the feed N that enters the rumen will be degraded to compounds such as peptides, amino acids or ammonia. The primary mechanism for this breakdown in the rumen is microbial proteolysis. The solubility, structure, and particle size of the feed will all influence the amount of degradation that takes place. There will always be a portion of the feed N that enters the rumen that is not degraded (RUP).

All RDP does not breakdown and be converted to ammonia at the same rate. Van Soest (1994) provided an overview of a system to define N sub-fractions that would permit better characterization of feed N availability and use in the dairy cow. This system includes the following fractions:

A – This is mainly NPN, amino acids, and peptides that are “instantly” available in the rumen.

B1 – This fraction has a fast rate of degradation in the rumen.

B2 – This fraction has a variable rate of degradation in the rumen.

B3 – This fraction has a slow rate of degradation in the rumen.

The use of this approach assists in doing a better job of describing N utilization in the rumen and improving the efficiency of feed N use. The use of this approach does require additional feed analysis data and computer formulation programs designed to utilize this information.

Microbial Protein

Microbial protein (MCP) is produced in the rumen by the rumen microorganisms. The key factors that determine the quantity of MCP synthesized is the quantity of ammonia available in the rumen and the supply of fermentable carbohydrates to provide an energy source. The availability of peptides may also stimulate the production of MCP by some rumen microorganisms. The NRC (2001) predicts MCP production as 13% of the discounted TDN (total digestible nutrients) available in the rumen.

Microbial protein can provide 50 – 80% of the amino acids required in the intestine by the dairy cow. Optimizing MCP production helps in increasing the efficiency of N use in the cow and controlling feed costs.
The benefits of MCP are related to:

  • MCP averages about 10% N (60-65% CP).
  • MCP is a good source of RUP.
  • MCP has a high digestibility in the intestine.
  • The amino acid profile of MCP is fairly constant.
  • MCP has an excellent ratio of lysine to methionine.

Protein Systems

There are 2 systems used to evaluate and balance rations for dairy cows on a protein basis. These are the CP (crude protein) and MP (metabolizable) protein systems. The CP system has been the most commonly used system.

The CP system is easy to use and has tabular feed composition and animal requirement information. This system assumes that all N in different feeds is similar in use and value to the cow. The Dairy NRC (2001) indicated that CP was a poor predictor of milk production. Nutritionists have modified the CP system to better meet their needs. They have added SP, RDP and RUP as additional factors to consider when using CP as the base for formulating dairy rations on a protein basis.

The Dairy NRC (2001) has suggested moving to a MP system to better define and refine protein formulation and utilization. This system fits with the biology of the cow. The challenge is that this system is not tabular and requires the use of computer programs to calculate both MP requirements and the MP supplied by feeds and MCP. The industry is changing to an MP approach. This system should provide an opportunity to improve the efficiency of protein use in dairy cattle. The use of this system will also decrease N excretion to the environment and lower potential ammonia emissions.

Total N Use in Dairy Cows

It is important to realize that the dairy cow is a dynamic rather than static system. This means that the actual value of a feed N source will vary depending on a number of factors. These include:

  • The proportion of the total N intake used in the rumen versus the small intestine.
  • The length of time the feed remains in the rumen (rate of passage).
  • The rate at which the feed is degraded in the rumen (rate of digestion).
  • The amino acid profile of the RUP fraction.
  • The digestibility of the RUP and MCP fractions in the small intestine.

This situation is similar to the energy value of feeds that occurs due to differences in dry matter intake (DMI) and rate of passage. Dairy cows with higher levels of DMI have a higher rate of passage and lower feed energy values. This is the reason for discounting feed energy values based on level of DMI and milk production (NRC, 2001).

The NRC (2001) computer model was used to determine the RDP and RUP for soybean meal in a ration for dairy cows. The base ration was for a cow producing 80 pounds of milk and contained 5 pounds of DM from soybean meal. This ration was then evaluated for cows producing 60, 100 or 120 lbs. of milk. The ration ingredients were all kept in the same proportion, but total ration DMI was adjusted using the NRC program predicted intakes. This would be similar to cows fed a 1-group TMR. The RDP and RUP values for soybean meal in this ration were:

Milk, lbs/day RDP, % of CP RUP, % of CP
60 60 40
80 59 41
100 56 44
120 54 46

The reason for the higher RUP value in higher producing cows is the decreased amount of time the soybean meal stays in the rumen. Thus, there is less time for N degradation and proteolysis to take place. This example also indicates the challenge with using tabular values to describe the RDP and RUP fractions in feeds. This is the reason that computer programs that can integrate DMI, rate of passage and rate of digestion are needed as we continue to refine formulation and evaluation approaches.

Summary

Nitrogen is the most expensive component of purchased feed costs on most dairy farms. Ration programs that incorporate the concepts of feed fractions and variable feed contributions to the animal provide an opportunity to fine tune nutrition and improve the efficiency of nutrient use. This will also lower nutrient excretion to the environment and usually improves income over feed cost.

References

NRC, 2001. National Research Council. Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle. 7th rev. ed. National Academy of Science, Washington, DC.

Van Soest, P.J. 1994. Nutritional ecology of the ruminant. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.

“Extension programs and policies are consistent with federal and state laws and regulations on nondiscrimination regarding race, sex, religion, age, color, creed, national or ethnic origin; physical, mental or sensory disability; marital status, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era or disabled veteran. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local Extension office.”

Disclaimer

This fact sheet reflects the best available information on the topic as of the publication date. Date 4-12-2007

This Feed Management Education Project was funded by the USDA NRCS CIG program. Additional information can be found at Feed Management Publications.

Image:Feed mgt logo4.JPG

This project is affiliated with the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center.

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Project Information

Detailed information about training and certification in Feed Management can be obtained from Joe Harrison, Project Leader, jhharrison@wsu.edu, or Becca White, Project Manager, rawhite@wsu.edu.

Author Information

L.E. Chase
Cornell University
lec7@cornell.edu

Reviewer Information

Mike Hutjens – University of Illinois

Floyd Hoisington – Consulting Nutritionist

Partners

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Nutritional Aspects of bST

Introduction

This fact sheet has been developed to support the implementation of the Natural Resources Conservation Service Feed Management 592 Practice Standard. The Feed Management 592 Practice Standard was adopted by NRCS in 2003 as another tool to assist with addressing resource concerns on livestock and poultry operations. Feed management can assist with reducing the import of nutrients to the farm and reduce the excretion of nutrients in manure.

Research studies with lactating cows supplemented with bST resulted in increases in milk production (6 to 15 pounds with 5 to 15 percent increases in dry matter intake. The increased feed intake was not sufficient in the initial four to six weeks to provide the energy needed for higher milk yield and also provide sufficient nutrients for body weight gain. The increased yield due to bST was related to greater mammary gland partitioning of nutrients from diet and body reserves. Based on a series of research studies and reports, the following nutritional and management guidelines should be considered when bST is administered to lactating dairy cows.

Please check this link first if you are interested in organic or specialty dairy production

Lactation Changes

Initial research studies indicated a lactation response from 6 to 41 percent milk increase. Field responses were 5 to 15 pounds more milk. The shape of the lactation curve is changed immediately with a vertical shift upward. No response occurs if nutrient needs are not met. bST is a tool to allow dairy managers to manipulate the lactation curve of cows that drop too fast, experience long calving intervals.

Dry Matter Intake Responses

Feed intake increases gradually and lags milk yield increases by 4 to 6 weeks. Dry matter intake increases 3 to 15 percent after the initial lag to support increased milk yield and body condition. Calorimetry and digestibility studies indicated bST-treated cows do not change digestive processes, maintenance requirements, or nutrient needs for milk synthesis.

Increased heat production associated with bST is exactly the amount predicted based on milk yield and dry matter intake increases. Research since bST was approved for commercial sale has shown that an additional function of bST is to increase dissipation of additional heat through increased sweating ability. In heat stressed conditions, as with non-supplemented cows, dissipating the heat can be a management concern. Milk increases were related to post-absorptive use of nutrients for milk synthesis. Current equations from the Dairy NRC for dry matter intake, nutrient needs, and milk synthesis apply to the higher producing cows. Improvements in feed efficiency (pounds of fat-corrected milk per unit of net energy) were related to diluting maintenance requirements and diverting nutrients from body tissue to milk.

Protein Considerations

Protein level and deqradability in the ration can impact bST responses. bST-treated cows produced 9.7 pounds more milk with a 40 percent rumen undegraded protein or RUP (of crude protein content) ration compared to 5.9 pounds of 3.5% fat corrected milk on a ration containing 33 percent RUP. Cows fed 17 percent crude protein rations with bST produced 9 pounds more milk compared to cows fed 14 percent crude protein rations with an increased 6.6 pounds with bST. RUP had a greater impact than level of protein. Canadian researchers found similar results with rations higher in crude protein. Cows fed a 16 percent crude protein diet for 28 days and treated with bST produced 23.8 percent more milk (9.9 pounds) compared to controls while the cows receiving the higher RUP diet with bST increased milk yield 18.8 percent or 6.6 pounds.

Energy Relationships

Energy intake and balance will be key factors. Higher dry matter intake must be allowed and achieved. An additional 3 to 15 percent increase in total ration dry matter will require higher quality forage, use of palatable feeds, excellent bunk management, shifting to total mix diets, optimal fiber levels (19 to 20 percent ADF, 28 to 32 percent NDF), adequate non-structural carbohydrate (35 to 40 percent), and limiting total ration moisture below 55 percent. Wisconsin data revealed cows on the lower forage diets produced more milk (heifers, 1,683 pounds more milk; older cows, 1,890 pounds more milk). More energy can be consumed by incorporating more grain, higher quality forage, and/or digestible by-product feeds.

Studies with supplemental sodium bicarbonate reported bST and buffer responses were additive increasing milk yield. Feed intake (increased 5.5 pounds), milk yield (increased 8.2 pounds), and fat test responses were favorable compared to control cows with buffer and bST. Mid-lactation responses in bST-treated and buffer supplemented cows showed similar responses.

Added dietary fat is another method to increase energy intake. bST-treated cows increased 3.5% FCM by 6.8 pounds per cow per day. With one pound of protected fat and bST, cows produced 14.3 pounds more 3.5% FCM. Milk protein percent was decreased (3.30 vs. 3.44) with added fat and tended to be lower with bST.

Body condition must be monitored because cows direct more nutrients to milk and away from body reserves. Cows receiving bST gained 4 to 10 percent less weight than controls. Body condition scores were 3.7 for control cows while supplemented cows averaged a lower score of less than 3.0. Restoring body condition is more efficient in late lactation compared to cows that are dry (not lactating). It may be more economical to replace some weight in the dry period at lower efficiencies than stopping bST use in late lactation. Cows in negative energy balance (any for any reason) can experience poorer reproduction performance (increased days to first heat, decreased estrus expression, and reduced conception rate). Also, if cows are in negative energy balance, little or no milk response to supplemented bST will occur.

Nutrient Metabolism

Lipid Metabolism

bST is lipolytic which increases body fat mobilization (adipose tissue) and increases blood concentration of non-esterified fatty acids. Cows in negative energy balance temporarily increase milk fat. Milk fat composition shifted to a greater proportion of long chain fatty acids (from adipose tissue mobilized) which is typical and a small change for any cows in negative energy balance. When animals are in positive energy balance, milk fat percentage was not altered. Treatment with bST reduces lipid synthesis in adipose and is probably one mechanism by which BST partitions more energy toward milk production.

Carbohydrate Metabolism

Meeting the glucose need for lactose synthesis represents a major challenge, especially before feed intake increases. A reduction in glucose oxidation, mobilization of glycogen reserves, glucose made from propionate in the liver (gluconeogensis), amino acid conversion to glucose, and hydrolysis of adipose-released glycerol are possible, but limited sources.

Protein Metabolism

Milk protein yield increases as milk yield increases. The change in percentage of the milk protein is dependent on the amount of amino acids available to the mammary gland. Cows in positive amino acid balance had no change in milk protein percent. Meeting the metabolizable protein requirements from microbial and RUP sources associated with higher milk yields and milk protein test due to bST supplementation is required. If cows were in negative amino acid balance, the percentage of milk protein declines when bST was administered. The primary source of additional amino acids (if cows are deficient) prior to increased feed intake could be from mobilized body reserves (not desirable and limited amount available).

Mineral Metabolism

Mineral demand is also increased with bST use. The rate of absorption from the digestive tract or mobilization of body reserves are primary sources for several macrominerals needed for milk synthesis. Milk mineral content is not altered and blood concentrations of calcium and phosphorus were unchanged.

Economics of bST

The economics of supplementing bST will depend on the individual cow milk response and price of milk when using bST. The following costs are associated with cow/herd increasing 10 pounds of milk per cow per day.

  • Cost of bST ($6.60 per injection for 14 days): $0.47
  • Added cost of dry matter to support 10 pounds of milk (4 lb D.M. @ 8 cents): $0.32
  • Increase in labor to identify cows and inject bST: $0.02

The additional total investment for bST supplementation is 81 cents per cow per day. If the milk response was 10 pounds of milk per cow per day valued at 13 cents a pound ($13.00 per cwt), the profit margin would be 49 cents a cow a day or $118 per lactation (242 days on treatment ). The cost of bST can vary due to contract prices and shipping charges.

Impact on the Environment

bST would reduce the impact on the environment as cows can produce more milk per cow to lower maintenance nutrient needs, increase feed efficiency, and fewer cows are needed to supply the same amount of milk. This technology also increases the potential profitability per cow. No differences in nutrient digestibility occur leading to higher fecal or urinary losses.

Take home message

  • bST increases the need for more nutrients related to higher milk yield per cow
  • Profitability of bST supplemented cows increases.
  • bST application is beneficial for the environment (fewer cows and higher feed efficiency)

“Extension programs and policies are consistent with federal and state laws and regulations on nondiscrimination regarding race, sex, religion, age, color, creed, national or ethnic origin; physical, mental or sensory disability; marital status, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era or disabled veteran. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local Extension office.”

 

Disclaimer

This fact sheet reflects the best available information on the topic as of the publication date. Date 5-26-2007

This Feed Management Education Project was funded by the USDA NRCS CIG program. Additional information can be found at Feed Management Publications.

Image:Feed mgt logo4.JPG

This project is affiliated with the LPELC.

Image:usda,nrcs,feed_mgt_logo.JPG

Project Information

Detailed information about training and certification in Feed Management can be obtained from Joe Harrison, Project Leader, jhharrison@wsu.edu, or Becca White, Project Manager, rawhite@wsu.edu.

Author Information

Michael F. Hutjens
Department of Animal Sciences
University of Illinois, Urbana

Reviewer Information

Roger Cady – Monsanto

Deb Wilks – Consulting Nutritionist

Partners

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Preparing to take the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS) Feed Management Dairy Certification Exam

Introduction

This fact sheet has been developed to support the implementation of the Natural Resources Conservation Service Feed Management 592 Practice Standard. The Feed Management 592 Practice Standard was adopted by NRCS in 2003 as another tool to assist with addressing resource concerns on livestock and poultry operations. Feed management can assist with reducing the import of nutrients to the farm and reduce the excretion of nutrients in manure.

During the early 2000’s the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS) developed a memorandum of understanding “that provides an opportunity for qualified ARPAS members to become Technical Service Providers for NRCS programs in the category of Feed Management”. Put simply, this means that consulting nutritionists are the most appropriate advisors to develop and implement a Feed Management Plan.

Please check this link first if you are interested in organic or specialty dairy production

The NRCS Feed Management 592 Practice Standard

The NRCS Feed Management Practice Standard is defined as “managing the quantity of available nutrients fed to livestock and poultry for their intended purpose”. The purposes of the 592 standard are:

  • supply the quantity of available nutrients required by livestock and poultry for maintenance, production, performance, and reproduction; while reducing the quantity of nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus, excreted in manure by minimizing the over-feeding of these and other nutrients, and
  • improve net farm income by feeding nutrients more efficiently.

The ultimate goal of utilizing the Feed Management Practice Standard 592 is to develop a farm specific Feed Management Plan.

Becoming a Certified Nutritionist to Develop a Feed Management Plan

Information about becoming certified can be accessed at ARPAS Technical Service Provider Program. In addition, the process is described in a companion fact sheet entitled “Becoming A Certified Nutritionist to Develop a Feed Management Plan – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Feed Management Practice Standard 592”.

Preparing to take the ARPAS Feed Management Exam

The National Feed Management Education project has collaborated with ARPAS to develop a Feed Management certification exam for each species of beef, dairy, poultry and swine.

In the exam consists of 75% of the questions cover the general topic of feed management and 25% are species specific feed management questions.

Feed Management Workshop

The preparation process for taking the ARPAS Dairy Feed Management exam should begin with attending a Feed Management Workshop to gain knowledge in the process of development and implementation of a feed management plan.

Curriculum and Written Resources

The primary source of written material in support of adoption of Feed Management 592 Practice Standard can be found at Feed Management Publications. A series of fact sheets have been developed to assist with an understanding of the intent of Feed Management 592 Standard, assessment and development checklists, and writing of a Feed Management Plan.

In addition to these fact sheets, developed by the National Feed Management project partners, additional information about feed management can be found at the following websites:

  1. Livestock & Poultry Environmental Learning Community, scroll down and click on Feed Management.
  2. Livestock & Poultry Environmental Stewardship Curriculum
  3. Nitrogen Management on Dairy Farms http://www.dairyn.cornell.edu

“Extension programs and policies are consistent with federal and state laws and regulations on nondiscrimination regarding race, sex, religion, age, color, creed, national or ethnic origin; physical, mental or sensory disability; marital status, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era or disabled veteran. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local Extension office.”

Disclaimer

This fact sheet reflects the best available information on the topic as of the publication date. Date 5-26-2007

This Feed Management Education Project was funded by the USDA NRCS CIG program. Additional information can be found at Feed Management Publications.

Image:Feed mgt logo4.JPG

This project is affiliated with the LPELC.

Image:usda,nrcs,feed_mgt_logo.JPG

Project Information

Detailed information about training and certification in Feed Management can be obtained from Joe Harrison, Project Leader, jhharrison@wsu.edu, or Becca White, Project Manager, rawhite@wsu.edu.

Author Information

J. H. Harrison jhharrison@wsu.eduand R. A. White, Washington State University
R. Shaver, University of Wisconsin
L. Chase, Cornell University
Glenn Carpenter, Natural Resources Conservation Service

Partners

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Silage Management Considerations

Introduction

This fact sheet has been developed to support the implementation of the Natural Resources Conservation Service Feed Management 592 Practice Standard. The Feed Management 592 Practice Standard was adopted by NRCS in 2003 as another tool to assist with addressing resource concerns on livestock and poultry operations. Feed management can assist with reducing the import of nutrients to the farm and reduce the excretion of nutrients in manure.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service has adopted a practice standard called Feed Management (592) and is defined as “managing the quantity of available nutrients fed to livestock and poultry for their intended purpose”. The national version of the practice standard can be found in a companion fact sheet entitled “An Introduction to Natural Resources Feed Management Practice Standard 592”. Please check in your own state for a state-specific version of the standard.

Regardless of the size of a dairy operation, producers know problems can occur in every silage program. This fact sheet describes possible causes and solutions for nine potential problems in managing silage in bunker silos, drive-over piles, and bags.

The nine potential problems include:

  • High ‘forage in’ versus ‘silage out’ loss in bunker silos, drive-over piles, and silage bags
  • Large variation in DM content and/or nutritional quality of the ensiled forage
  • Missing the optimum harvest window for whole-plant corn
  • High levels of butyric acid and ammonia-nitrogen, particularly in ‘hay-crop’ silage
  • High levels of acetic acid in wet corn silage
  • Aerobically unstable corn silage during feedout
  • Excessive surface-spoiled silage in bunker silos and drive-over piles
  • Poorly managed bagged silage
  • Safety issues for bunker silos and drive-over piles.

Dairy producers should discuss these problems and solutions with everyone on their silage team, including their nutritionist and custom operator, as a reminder to implement the best possible silage management practices.

Four Excel spreadsheets to help producers make decisions about bacterial inoculants, packing density, and sealing strategies for bunker silos and drive-over piles are discussed.

Please check this link first if you are interested in organic or specialty dairy production

High ‘Forage In’ versus ‘Silage Out’ Loss in Bunker Silos, Drive-over Piles, and Silage Bags

Solutions

  • Select the right forage hybrid or variety.
  • Harvest at the optimum stage of maturity and DM content.
  • Use the correct size of bunker or pile, and do not over-fill bunkers or piles.
  • Employ well-trained, experienced people, especially those who operate the forage harvester, pack tractor, or bagging machine. Provide training as needed.
  • Apply the appropriate lactic acid bacterial (LAB) inoculant.
  • Achieve a uniform packing density in bunkers and piles (a minimum of 15 lbs of DM per ft3).
  • Provide an effective seal to the surface of bunkers and piles and consider using double polyethylene sheets or an oxygen barrier (OB) film.
  • Follow proper face management practices during the entire feedout period.
  • Schedule regular meetings with your forage team.

Large Variation in DM Content and/or Nutritional Quality of the Ensiled Forage

Causes

  • Interseeded crops that are not at the optimum stage of maturity at harvest.
  • Multiple cuttings or multiple forages ensiled in the same silo.
  • Delays in harvest activities because of a breakdown or shortage of machinery and equipment.
  • Seasonal or daily weather that affects crop maturing and field-wilting rates.
  • Variation among corn hybrids.

Solutions

  • Use multiple silos and smaller silos that improve forage inventory control.
  • Ensile only one cutting and/or variety of ‘hay-crop’, field-wilted forage per silo.
  • Minimize the number of corn and/or sorghum hybrids per silo.
  • Shorten the filling-time, but do not compromise packing density.
  • Harvest during stable weather, especially for ‘hay-crop’ forages.

Missing the Optimum Harvest Window for Whole-plant Corn

Causes

  • Harvest equipment capacity is inadequate and/or the crop matures in a narrow harvest window.
  • Warm, dry weather can speed the maturing process and dry-down rate of the crop.
  • Wet weather can keep harvesting equipment out of the field.
  • Sometimes it is difficult to schedule the silage contractor.

Solutions

  • Plant multiple corn hybrids with different season lengths.
  • Improve the communication between the dairy producer, crop grower, and silage contractor.
  • Change harvest strategy, which might include kernel processing, shorter theoretical length of cut (TLC), or adding a pack tractor.

High Levels of Butyric Acid and Ammonia-nitrogen, particularly in ‘Hay-crop’ Silage

Causes

  • The forage is ensiled too wet, and clostridia dominate the final fermentation process.
  • Alfalfa and other legumes, which experience a rain event in the field after mowing, are at a higher risk because rain leaches soluble sugars from the forage.

Solutions

  • Chop and ensile all forages at the correct DM content for the type and size of silo.
  • Proper packing to achieve a minimum density of 15 lb of DM per ft3 excludes oxygen and limits the loss of plant sugars during the aerobic phase (Visser, 2005; Holmes, 2006).
  • Apply a homolactic LAB inoculant to all forages to ensure an efficient conversion of plant sugars to lactic acid.
  • Do not contaminate the forage with soil or manure at harvest, and put the forage on a concrete or asphalt base.
  • If it is not possible to control the DM content by wilting in the field, the addition of dry molasses, beet pulp, or ground grain can reduce the chance of a clostridial fermentation and the problems associated with butyric acid silages.

High Levels of Acetic Acid, particularly in wet Corn Silage

Causes and symptoms

  • If the whole-plant has a low DM content, it is predisposed to a long, heterolactic fermentation.
  • This silage has a strong ‘vinegar’ smell, and there will be a 1- to 2-foot layer of bright yellow, sour smelling silage near the floor of a bunker silo or drive-over pile.

Solutions

  • Ensile all forages at the correct DM content, and especially not too wet.
  • Apply a homolactic LAB inoculant to ensure an efficient conversion of plant sugar to lactic acid.

Aerobically Unstable Corn Silage during Feedout

Research has not explained why corn silages differ in their susceptibility to aerobic deterioration. Microbes, primarily lactate utilizing yeast, as well as forage and silage management practices contribute to aerobic stability of an individual corn silage. Nevertheless, there are several practical steps dairy producers need to be aware of, which can help minimize feedout problems.

Solutions: At harvest and filling time.

  • Harvest at the correct stage of kernel maturity, and especially not too mature.
  • Ensile at the correct DM content, and especially not too dry.
  • In normal conditions, do not chop longer than ¾-inch TLC if the crop is processed or ½-inch, if not processed.
  • Achieve a uniform packing density of at least 15 lbs of DM per ft3.
  • If aerobic stability continues to be a problem, consider using a LAB inoculant that contains the heterolactic bacteria, Lactobacillus buchneri (Kung et al., 2003).

Solutions: At feedout.

  • Maintain a rapid progression through the silage during the entire feedout period.
  • The feedout face should be a smooth surface that is perpendicular to the floor and sides in bunker or pile.
  • Proper unloading technique includes shaving silage down the feedout face and never ‘digging’ the bucket into the bottom of the silage feedout face.
  • Remove 6 to 12 inches per day in cold weather months; 12 to 18 inches per day in warm months.
    • Feed from ‘larger feedout faces’ in cold weather months.
    • Feed from ‘smaller feedout faces’ in warm weather months.
  • Minimize the time corn silage stays in the commodity area before it is added to the ration.
  • It might be necessary to remove silage from a bunker or pile and move it the commodity area two times per day.
  • When building new silos, size them correctly to allow adequate feedout rates.
  • Consider using a silage facer as an alternative to a front-end loader.

A ‘Facer Cost Analysis’ Excel spreadsheet by Holmes (2003) calculates the breakeven cost of a facer for silage removal compared to a front-end loader.

The breakeven cost of the facer, when converted to an annual cost, equals the sum of improvement in DM recovery value and additional labor, equipment, and fuel use costs. The labor, equipment, and fuel use could actually be savings if the facer operates at a faster rate than the front-end loader. The spreadsheet and a complete discussion of the topic are available on the UW-Extension Team Forage web site.

Excessive Surface-spoiled Silage in Bunker Silos and Drive-over Piles

Solutions

  • Achieve a uniform density (minimum of 12 to 14 lbs of DM per ft3) within the top 3 ft of the silage surface.
  • Shape all surfaces so water drains off the bunker or pile, and the back, front, and side slopes should not exceed a 3 to 1 slope.
  • Seal the forage surface immediately after filling is finished.
  • Two sheets of polyethylene or a single sheet of OB film is preferred to a single sheet of plastic (Berger and Bolsen, 2006; Bolsen and Bolsen, 2006b).
  • Overlap the sheets that cover the forage surface by a minimum of 3 to 4 feet.
  • Arrange plastic sheets so runoff water does not contact the silage.
  • Sheets should reach 4 to 6 feet off the forage surface on the perimeter of a drive-over pile.
  • Put uniform weight on the sheets over the entire surface of a bunker or pile, and double the weight placed on overlapping sheets.
    • Bias-ply truck sidewall disks are the most common alternative to full-casing tires.
    • Sandbags, filled with pea gravel, are an effective way to anchor the overlapping sheets, and sandbags provide a heavy, uniform weight at the interface of the sheets and bunker wall.
    • Sidewall disks and sandbags can be stacked, and if placed on pallets, they can be moved easily and lifted to the top of a bunker wall when the silo is being sealed and lifted to the top of the feedout face when the cover is removed.
    • A 6- to 12-inch layer of sand or soil or sandbags is an effective way to anchor sheets around the perimeter of drive-over piles.
  • Prevent damage to the sheet or film during the entire storage period.
    • Mow the area surrounding a bunker or pile and put up temporary fencing as safe guards against domesticated and wild animals.
    • Store waste polyethylene and cover weighting material so it does not harbor vermin.
    • Regular inspection and repair is recommended because extensive spoilage can develop quickly if air and water penetrate the silage mass.
  • Discard all surface-spoiled silage because it has a significant negative effect on DM intake and nutrient digestibility (Whitlock et al., 2000; Bolsen, 2002).
  • Full casing discarded tires were the standard for many years to anchor polyethylene sheets on bunker silos. These waste tires are cumbersome to handle, messy, and standing water in full casing tires can spread the West Nile virus, which is another reason to avoid using full casing tires on beef and dairy operations (Jones et al., 2004).

Poorly Managed Bagged Silage

The bag silo has become a popular storage system on many farms in the USA. While bagged silage requires specialized equipment, bagging machines can be rented or many silage custom operations provide them. Bags are also used to store extra silage when forage yields exceed the capacity of existing silo structures. Nevertheless, bagged silage is not trouble-free. Bolsen and Bolsen (2006a) surveyed 15 nutritionists, dairy producers, and silage contractors and asked, ‘better bagged silage: what is important?’. Selected responses from participants are presented here.

Better bagged silage: what is important?

  • Bags should be located on a well-drained, firm surface and preferably on concrete or asphalt.
    • Keep bags out of the mud.
    • Provide feeders easy access to all bags.
  • Low silage DM densities are a problem in bags (Visser, 2005). A skilled bagging machine operator is essential to insure a consistent, uniform fill and achieve an acceptable density.
  • Mark (paint) bags with a number, date, crop, farm/field, use description (i.e., which cattle to feed).
  • Record the DM content of all forage going into a bag, especially field-wilted, hay-crop silage, and mark the location of potentially ‘problematic silage’ (i.e., too wet, too dry, too mature, etc.).
  • Do not bag alfalfa ‘too wet’. The DM target should always be 35 to 45 percent.
  • Check all bags at least three times per week and mend/patch the punctures and holes.
  • The silage removal rate at feedout must be sufficient to prevent the exposed silage from heating and spoiling, especially if multiple bags are open at same time.
    • Caution: The first bags used in the 1970s had diameters of 8 to 9 feet, but some :*Remove only enough plastic for silage needed daily.
  • Monitor the DM content of all silages and make appropriate changes in the ration when DM content changes more than two percentage units.
  • Remember: Good bagged silage is no accident; it takes sound management and attention to detail!

Safety Issues for Bunker Silos and Drive-over Piles: Major Hazards and Preventive Measures

Consistently protecting workers, livestock, equipment, and property at harvest, filling, and feeding does not occur without thought, preparation, and training (Murphy and Harshman, 2006).

Tractor roll-over

  • Roll-over protective structures (ROPS) create a zone of protection around the tractor operator. When used with a seat belt, ROPS prevent the operator from being thrown from the protective zone and crushed by the tractor or equipment mounted on or drawn by the tractor.
  • Install sighting rails on above ground walls. These rails indicate the location of the wall to the pack tractor operator but are not to hold an over-turning tractor.
  • Form a progressive wedge of forage when filling bunkers or piles. The wedge provides a slope for packing, and a minimum slope of 3 to 1 reduces the risk of a tractor roll-over.
  • Use low-clearance, wide front end tractors and add weights to the front and back of the tractors to improve stability.
  • When two or more pack tractors are used, establish a driving procedure to prevent collisions.
  • Raise the dump body only while the truck is on a rigid floor to prevent turnovers.

Entangled in machinery

  • Keep machine guards and shields in place to protect the operator from an assortment of rotating shafts, chain and v-belt drives, gears and pulley wheels, and rotating knives on tractors, pull-type and self-propelled harvesters, unloading wagons, and feeding equipment.

Run-over by machinery

  • Never allow people (especially children) in or near a bunker or pile during filling.
  • Properly adjust rear view mirrors on all tractors and trucks.

Fall from height

  • It is easy to slip on plastic when covering a bunker, especially in wet weather, so install guard rails on all above ground level walls.
  • Use caution when removing plastic and tires, especially near the edge of the feeding face.
  • Never stand on top of a silage overhang in bunkers and piles, as a person’s weight can cause it to collapse.

Crushed by an avalanche/collapsing silage

  • The number one factor contributing to injuries or deaths from silage avalanches is overfilled bunkers and drive-over piles!
  • Do not fill higher than the unloading equipment can reach safely, and typically, an unloader can reach a height of 12 to 14 feet.
  • Use proper unloading technique that includes shaving silage down the feeding face and never ‘dig’ the bucket into the bottom of the silage. Undercutting, a situation that is quite common when the unloader bucket cannot reach the top of an over-filled bunker or pile, creates an overhang of silage that can loosen and tumble to the floor.
  • Never allow people to stand near the feeding face, and a rule-of-thumb is never being closer to the feeding face than three times its height.
  • Fence the perimeter of bunkers and piles and post a sign, “Danger: Do Not Enter. Authorized Personnel Only”.

Complacency

  • Think safety first! Even the best employee can become frustrated with malfunctioning equipment and poor weather conditions and take a hazardous shortcut, or misjudge a situation and take a risky action (Murphy, 1994).

Achieving a Higher Silage DM Density in Bunker Silos and Drive-over Piles

A high DM density in the ensiled forage is important (Holmes, 2006). Why? First, density determines the porosity of the silage, which affects the rate at which air can enter the silage mass during the feedout phase. Second, achieving a higher density increases the storage capacity of a silo.

Thus, a higher DM density typically decreases the annual storage cost per ton of crop by increasing the tons of crop that can be put in a given silo volume and decreasing the ‘forage in’ vs. ‘silage out’ loss that occurs during the fermentation, storage, and feedout periods.

Case Study Dairy

The Holmes-Muck Excel spreadsheet calculations for the average silage density in a drive-over pile of corn silage at a case study dairy are in Table 1. The actual 2003 pile of corn silage had a DM density of 11.5 lbs per ft3 and an estimated silage DM recovery of 77.5% (i.e., a 22.5% ‘shrink’ loss).

The following changes were made for the 2004 corn silage: 1) the maximum pile height was lowered from 16 to 14 feet, 2) the forage delivery rate increased from 75 to 90 tons per hour, 3) the average forage DM content increased from 32 to 34%, 4) a second tractor was added to assist in packing, and 5) the estimated forage layer thickness decreased from 8 to 5 inches. These changes resulted in a predicted silage DM density of 15.8 lbs per ft3. The estimated silage DM recovery was 85.0% (i.e., a 15.0% ‘shrink’ loss) for the 2004 silage, which was based on the data by Ruppel (1992).

Profitability of LAB inoculated Corn Silage for Lactating Dairy Cows

Dairy producers, dairy nutritionists, and custom silage operators are sometimes concerned about whether it is economical to use an LAB inoculant when making whole-plant corn silage. Presented in Table 2 is an example from an Excel spreadsheet, which shows the profitability of inoculating whole-plant corn silage with LAB for lactating dairy cows. The dairy herd in this example had an average milk production of 75 lbs per cow per day and a ration DM intake of 52 lbs. The increase in net income with LAB-treated corn silage, calculated on a per cow per day and per cow per year basis, comes from improvements in both forage preservation and silage utilization. The additional ‘cow days’ per ton of crop ensiled from an increased silage recovery (1.5 percentage units) and an in¬creased milk per cow per day (0.25 lbs) gave an added net income of 13.0¢ per cow per day and $39.53 per cow per year. The increase in net return per ton of whole-plant corn ensiled with an LAB inoculant was $5.73. The Excel spreadsheet is on the Kansas State University silage web site.

Profitability of LAB inoculated Corn Silage for Growing Cattle

Presented in Table 3 is an example from an Excel spreadsheet, which shows the profitability of inoculating corn silage with LAB for growing cattle.

The cattle in this example had an average weight of 650 lbs, a DM intake of 2.62% of body weight, a ration DM intake to gain ratio of 7.1, and an average daily gain of 2.39 lbs. The cattle performance responses to LAB-treated corn silage were a 0.06 lb increase in avg. daily gain (2.39 vs. 2.45 lbs) and an improved ration DM to gain ratio of 0.15 (6.95 vs. 7.1). The DM recovery response was 1.5 percentage units for LAB-treated silage compared to the untreated silage (84.0 vs. 82.5). The gain per ton of ‘as-fed’ whole-plant corn ensiled was 92.0 lbs for the LAB-treated vs. 88.45 lbs for untreated corn silage, which was an increase of 3.55 lbs. With a cattle price of $1.20 per lb and a LAB cost of $0.75 per ton of crop ensiled, the net benefit per ton of crop ensiled was $3.51. The Excel spreadsheet is on the Kansas State University silage web site.

Spreadsheet: Profitability of Sealing Bunker Silos and Drive-over Pile

An Excel spreadsheet to calculate the profitability of sealing corn silage and alfalfa haylage in bunker silos and drive-over piles was developed from research conducted at Kansas State University between 1990 to 1995 and equations published by Huck et al. (1997). The authors noted that about 75% of the total tons of corn and sorghum silage made in Kansas from 1994 to 1996 were not sealed, and the value of silage lost to surface spoilage was between 7 and 9 million dollars annually.

Presented in Table 4 are examples from the spreadsheet. The profitability of properly sealing bunkers and piles with standard 5- or 6-mil plastic or an improved oxygen barrier film makes it clear that producers should pay close attention to the details of this ‘highly troublesome’ task. Further information about the improved OB film is at http://www.silostop.com.

Table 1. Spreadsheet calculations of the average silage densities in a drive-over pile of corn silage on a case study dairy (Intermediate calculations not shown.)1, 2
Component Actual: 2003 corn silage Predicted: 2004 corn silage
Bunker silo wall height, ft (0 for drive-over pile) 0 0
Bunker silo maximum silage height, ft 16 14
Forage delivery rate to the pile, fresh tons/hr 75 90
Forage DM content, % (note:decimal) 0.32 0.34
Estimated forage packing layer thickness, inches 8 5
Tractor #1 weight, lbs3 35,000 (80) 35,000 (80)
Tractor #2 weight, lbs3 0 35,000 (95)
Estimated average DM density, lbs/ft3 11.5 15.8
1From B. J. Holmes, UW-Madison, and R. E. Muck, US Dairy Forage Research Center, Madison. Available at: http://www.uwex.edu/ces/crops/uwforage/storage.htm
2Numbers in bold are user inputs.
3Estimated packing time as a percent of filling time is in parenthesis.
Table 2. Profitability of LAB-treated corn silage for lactating dairy cows.1
Corn silage, other forage, and grain/supplement inputs:
Ration ingredient DM intake, lb DM, % As-fed, lb/day $/lb Feed cost, $/day
Corn silage 15.0 33.3 45.0 0.0175 0.79
Other silage/haylage 9.0 45.0 20.0 0.030 0.60
Other forage/hay 4.0 88.0 4.6 0.060 0.27
Grain/supplement 24.0 88.0 27.3 0.095 2.59
Total 52.0   96.9   4.25
Corn silage inventory and inoculant cost:
Corn silage required/cow/year, ton 7.94
LAB cost/ton of crop ensiled, $ 0.75
1Numbers in bold are user inputs.

 

Table 2 (cont.).Profitability of LAB-treated corn silage for lactating dairy cows.1
Component Untreated corn silage LAB corn silage
Preservation efficiency:
Silage recovery, % of crop ensiled2 85.0 (1.5) 86.5
Silage recovered/ton of crop ensiled, lb 1,700 1,730
Amount of corn silage fed/cow per day, lb 45.0 45.0
Cow days/ton of crop ensiled 37.74 38.41
Extra cow days/ton of crop ensiled   0.67
Milk production/cow/day, lb   75.0
Milk gained/ton of crop ensiled, lb   49.9
Milk price, $/lb   0.135
Increased milk value/ton of crop ensiled, $   6.74
Utilization efficiency:
Increased milk/cow/day, lb   0.25
Increased milk value/ton of crop ensiled, $   1.30
Preservation + utilization efficiency:
Extra milk value/ton of crop ensiled, $   8.04
Increased feed cost/extra cow day, $   3.46
Increased feed cost/ton of crop ensiled, $   2.31
Increased net return/ton of crop ensiled, $   5.73
Added cost of LAB:per cow/day, $   0.02
Added cost of LAB:per cow/year, $   5.96
Added income as milk:per cow/day, $   0.15
Added income as milk:per cow/year, $   45.53
Net benefit with LAB:per cow/day, $   0.13
Net benefit with LAB:per cow/year, $   39.53
1Numbers in bold are user inputs.
2Shown in parenthesis is the response to LAB inoculant expressed in percentage units.

 

Table 3. Profitability of LAB-treated corn silage for growing cattle.1
Ration ingredients DM basis Untreated ration LAB ration Untreated ration LAB response2 LAB ration
   % DM, % DM, % lb/day   lb/day
Corn silage 87.5 0.333 0.333 14.88   14.88
Grain or supplement 12.5 0.90 0.90 2.12   2.12
Total 100     17.0   17.0
Avg. cattle wt., lb 650          
Cattle price, $/lb 1.20          
Avg. daily gain, lb       2.39   2.45
DM intake, lb/day       17.0   17.0
Ration DM/lb of gain, lb       7.1 -0.15 6.95
Silage/lb of gain, lb as-fed       18.7   18.3
DM recovery, % of the ensiled crop       82.5 +1.5 84.0
Gain/ton of as-fed crop ensiled, lb       88.45   92.0
Increased gain/ton of as-fed crop ensiled, lb         3.55
Value of the extra gain/ton of crop ensiled, $         4.26
Cost of LAB/ton of crop ensiled, $         0.75
Net benefit/ton of LAB-treated crop ensiled, $         3.51
1Numbers in bold are user inputs.

2From Bolsen et al. (1992).

 

Table 4. Profitability of sealing corn silag and alfalfa haylage in bunker silos and drive-over piles with standard 5- or 6-mil plastic and OB film.1
Inputs and calculations Bunker 1 corn standard Bunker 2 corn OB film Bunker 3 alfalfa standard Bunker 4 alfalfa OB film Pile 1 alfalfa OB film
Silage value, $/as-fed ton 32.50 32.50 60.00 60.00 60.00
Density in the top 3 ft, lb as-fed, ft3 39 39 35 35 40
Silo width, ft 40 40 40 40 100
Silo length, ft 120 120 120 120 250
Silage lost in the original top 3 feet:
unsealed, % of the crop ensiled 50 50 50 50 50
sealed, % of the crop ensiled 22.5a 12.5a 20a 10a 10a
Cost of covering sheet, ¢/square ft 4.0 10.0 4.0 10.0 10.0
Silage in the original top 3 ft, ton 280 280 250 250 1,500
Value of silage in original top 3 ft, $ 9,125 9,125 15,120 15,120 90,000
Value of silage lost if unsealed, $ 4,565 4,565 7,560 7,560 45,000
Value of silage lost if sealed, $ 2,055 1,140 3,025 1,510 9,000
Sealing cost, $ 670 960 670 960 5,900
Net value of silage saved by sealing, $ 1,840 2,460 3,860 5,090 30,100
1Numbers in bold are user inputs.
aAdapted from Bolsen and Bolsen (2006b).

 

References

Berger, L.L. and K.K. Bolsen. 2006. Sealing strategies for bunker silos and drive-over piles. In: Proc. Silage for Dairy Farms: Growing, Harvesting, Storing, and Feeding. NRAES Publ.181. Ithaca. NY.

Bolsen, K. K. 2002. Bunker silo management: four important practices. Pg. 160-164. In: Proc. Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference. Ft. Wayne, IN. The Ohio State University, Columbus.

Bolsen, K.K., R.N. Sonon, B. Dalke, R. Pope, J.G. Riley, and A. Laytimi. 1992. Evaluation of inoculant and NPN additives: a summary of 26 trials and 65 farm-scale silages. Kansas Agric. Exp. Sta. Rpt. of Prog. 651:102.

Bolsen, K.K. and R.E. Bolsen. 2006a. Better bagged silage: what is important? Presentation at the Penn State Dairy Nutrition Workshop. http://www.das.psu.edu/research-extension/dairy/nutrition/pdf/bolsen-bag-silageppt.pdf/

Bolsen, K.K. and R.E. Bolsen. 2006b. Common silage pitfalls. Pg. 5-13. In: Proc. of the Penn State Dairy Nutrition Workshop: http://www.das.psu.edu/research-extension/dairy/nutrition/pdf/bolsen-silage-pitfalls.pdf/

Holmes, B.J. 2003. Bunker silo facer: why invest? UW-Extension Team Forage web site: http://www.uwex.edu/ces/crops/uwforage/storage.htm

Holmes, B.J. 2006. Density in silage storage. Pg. 214-238. In: Proc. of Silage for Dairy Farms: Growing, Harvesting, Storing, and Feeding. NRAES Publ. 181. Ithaca, NY.

Huck, G.L., J.E. Turner, M.K. Siefers, M.A. Young, R.V. Pope, B. E. Brent, K.K. Bolsen. 1997. Economics of sealing horizontal silos. Kansas Agric. Exp. Sta. Rpt. of Prog. 783:84.

Jones, C.M., A.J. Heinrichs, G.W. Roth, and V.A. Isher. 2004. From harvest to feed: understanding silage management. Publ. Distribution Center, The Pennsylvania State University, 112 Agric. Admin. Bldg, University Park, PA 16802.

Kung, L., Jr., M.R. Stokes, C.J. Lin. 2003. Silage additives. Pg. 305-360. In: Silage Science and Technology. D. Buxton, R. Muck, and J. Harrison, eds. ASA, CSSA, and SSSA Publ., Madison.

Murphy, D.J. 1994. Silo filling safety. Fact sheet E-22. Agric. and Biol. Engineering Dept, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.

Murphy, D.J. and W.C. Harshman. 2006. Harvest and storage safety. Pg. 171-187. In: Proc. of Silage for Dairy Farms: Growing, Harvesting, Storing, and Feeding. NRAES Publ. 181. Ithaca, NY.

Ruppel, K.A. 1992. Effect of bunker silo management on hay crop nutrient management. M.S. Thesis, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Visser, B. 2005. Forage density and fermentation variation: a survey of bunker, piles and bags across Minnesota and Wisconsin dairy farms. Four-state Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference. MWPS-4SD18. Ames, IA.

Whitlock, L.A., T. Wistuba, M.K. Siefers, R. Pope, B.E. Brent, and K.K. Bolsen. 2000. Effect of level of surface-spoiled silage on the nutritive value of corn silage-based rations Kansas Agric. Exp. Sta. Rpt. of Prog. 850:22.

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Disclaimer

This fact sheet reflects the best available information on the topic as of the publication date. Date 6-20-2007

This Feed Management Education Project was funded by the USDA NRCS CIG program. Additional information can be found at Feed Management Publications.

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This project is affiliated with the LPELC.

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Project Information

Detailed information about training and certification in Feed Management can be obtained from Joe Harrison, Project Leader, jhharrison@wsu.edu, or Becca White, Project Manager, rawhite@wsu.edu.

Author Information

Keith Bolsen
Professor Emeritus
Cattle Nutrition and Forage Management
Kansas State University
keithbolsen@hotmail.com

Twig Marston
Associate Professor, Beef Extension Specialist
Kansas State University
twig@k-state.edu

Reviewer Information

Bill Weiss – The Ohio State University

Dwight Roseler – Consulting Nutritionist

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Strategies to Reduce the Crude Protein (Nitrogen) Intake of Dairy Cows for Economic and Environmental Goals

Contents


Introduction

This fact sheet has been developed to support the implementation of the Natural Resources Conservation Service Feed Management 592 Practice Standard. The Feed Management 592 Practice Standard was adopted by NRCS in 2003 as another tool to assist with addressing resource concerns on livestock and poultry operations. Feed management can assist with reducing the import of nutrients to the farm and reduce the excretion of nutrients in manure.

Of the nitrogen (N) fed to dairy cows, only 21 to 38% actually is exported as milk or meat. That means 62 to 79% of the N fed to cows is for the most part excreted via urine and feces of cows. Most N voided in urine is quickly emitted as ammonia whereas the percent of fecal N converted to ammonia is quite variable depending upon storage management and land application method. Because most N consumed in excess of requirement is excreted in urine, to improve efficiency of N use, urinary N needs to be reduced. Changes in diet formulation can improve efficiency of N use on dairies.

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Definitions

N = nitrogen; CP = crude protein = N X 6.25; NPN = nonprotein N; TDN = total digestible nutrients; RDP = ruminally degraded protein; LYS = lysine; MUN = milk urea N; MCP = microbial crude protein; RUP = ruminally undegraded protein; MET = methionine; FCM = fat-corrected milk; IOFC = income over feed costs

Historical Diet Formulations For Cows

Protein nutrition of dairy cows has evolved over the decades. Initially, the approach was to determine the % or amount of dietary CP that cows needed for milk production. However, any CP consumed in excess of the cows’ requirements is excreted via urine. Thus, by feeding the cow to meet, and not exceed, her CP requirement, N excretion is reduced. The major weakness of formulating diets on a CP basis is that it ignores the type of CP consumed. For example, under this system all N in NPN sources (urea for example) is treated the same as the N in soybean meal, and clearly they are much different. The N in NPN does not include long chains of amino acids in the form of “true” protein whereas most of the N in soybean is amino-acid bound. Therefore, soybean meal contributes amino acids to both the ruminal micro-organisms and to intestinal amino acid absorption whereas NPN contributes only to the latter (Figure 1).

The goal of feeding protein to lactating cows is to support milk protein synthesis while meeting the needs for maintenance, growth and replacement of lost body protein. All proteins synthesized in the body have set amino acid patterns, so if a particular amino acid is lacking during protein synthesis, formation of that protein stops. Thus, we are not really trying to supply dietary protein to cows, we are trying to supply enough of each amino acid such that no single amino acid limits protein synthesis.

Another approach to improve upon balancing diets on a CP basis was the Burrough’s metabolizable protein system (Burroughs et al., 1975). This system considered the amount of dietary N that was solubilized in the rumen and could be used for microbial protein synthesis, a calculation that also involved the amount of TDN available to support microbial growth. To the calculated microbial protein was added the amount of dietary protein that escaped ruminal degradation. Use of ammonia and fermentable carbohydrate for microbial protein synthesis is illustrated in Figure 1. Finally, adjustment factors for digestibility and unavoidable fecal losses were applied to yield a Metabolizable Protein value. This system required knowing the amount of protein in feeds that was converted to ammonia in the rumen, the amount of feed protein that escaped ruminal breakdown, and the TDN value for the feeds. The concept was excellent but the system needed refinement.

The amount of dietary protein that is degraded in the rumen is primarily determined by characteristics of the N-containing compound (e.g., solubility and linkages) and how long it resides in the rumen (Figure 1). Residence time in the rumen, i.e. ruminal passage rate, is determined by total feed intake (the more the cow eats the faster the feed tends to move through the rumen), particle size and specific gravity (smaller, heavier particles move faster than large, light particles through the rumen), and other factors such as how quickly the microbes ferment the feed. Certain feeds are fermented faster than others (barley is fermented faster than sorghum), and feeds can be treated to reduce their rate of protein breakdown (most treatments involve lowering the protein solubility). Obviously the calculations to determine the amount of dietary protein that is degraded, or conversely undegraded, in the rumen get complicated, hence computer models tremendously speed the calculations.

Current approaches to meeting the amino acid needs of cows

First, we try to maximize microbial protein synthesis in the rumen. Microbial protein is high in LYS, and LYS is often the most limiting amino acid for milk production in feeding situations commonly found in the confined operations. Maximizing microbial protein synthesis involves supplying fermentable carbohydrates and soluble N sources to enable rapid bacterial growth. We need ammonia and other forms of soluble N to be available to the bacteria simultaneously with the fermentation of the carbohydrates so the bacteria have everything they need for growth, which includes protein synthesis (Figure 1). If the N is solubilized and degraded too quickly, much is absorbed as ammonia and subsequently excreted as urea N in urine or MUN. If too little N is solubilized in the rumen, the ammonia concentration in the ruminal fluid is too low to maximize microbial protein synthesis (Stokes et al., 1991; Clark et al., 1992). Generally, the amount of fermentable carbohydrate in the rumen is most limiting to microbial protein synthesis. Hence, the NRC (2001) predicts the yield of MCP as 0.13 x TDN (discounted), i.e., 130g MCP/kg of TDN (discounted) when RDP exceeds 1.18 x MCP yield. If the RDP intake is < 1.18 x TDN predicted MCP, then MCP is 0.85 of RDP intake. Thus, if a cow consumes 15 kg of TDN (discounted), MCP flowing to the intestine is estimated as: 15 x 0.13 = 1.95 kg.

Secondly, diets are formulated to supply amino acids for milk production by including dietary proteins that will not be completely degraded in the rumen and have a high content of the amino acids believed to be most limiting for milk production. Some feed proteins have relatively high LYS concentrations (porcine blood meal), some have relatively high MET concentrations (corn gluten meal), and some have a good balance of LYS and MET (fish meal). Thus, diets contain multiple proteins, all of which degrade at different rates in the rumen. In addition, the ruminal degradation rates for the 20 amino acids found in proteins vary substantially. Fortunately, all these data are contained in software programs so the estimated flow of feed amino acids into the small intestine is quickly calculated. Use of computer models allows us to take advantage of complementary protein and other N sources to achieve lower CP diets to achieve comparable milk yields.

Case I.

Using RDP/RUP feed data to achieve diets with a lower % CP.
Reynal and Broderick (2005) fed four diets that varied in RDP. Their diet description and results are given in Table 1. Urinary N excretion decreased about 60 g/cow/day as the % CP and % RDP decreased in the diet, however, the % milk protein also decreased. Their data suggest 11.7% RDP in ration DM as the best compromise between profitability and environmental quality.

 

Table 1. Effect of Percent Ruminal Degradable Protein on Dietary Components and Cow Responses
Dietary Treatments
A B C D
CP, % 18.8 18.3 17.7 17.2
RDP, % DM1 13.2 12.3 11.7 10.6
RDP, % of CP 70.2 67.2 66.1 61.6
RDP, % DM2 12.5 10.9 9.2 7.7
RUP, % DM1 5.8 6.2 6.0 6.6
RUP, % of CP 30.8 33.9 33.9 38.4
RUP, % DM2 6.3 7.4 8.5 9.5
NEL2, Mcal/lb DM 0.709 0.704 0.704 0.704
3.5% FCM, lb/d 93.1 94.2 93.3 91.3
Milk true protein, % 3.14a 3.14a 3.07b 3.04b
MUN, mg/dL 15.9a 15.6a 13.6b 12.8b
BUN, mg/dL 13.8a 14.0a 11.8b 12.4b
Ruminal NH3-N, mg/dL 12.33a 11.76a 8.68b 5.71c
Urinary N excretion, g/d 295a 293a 237b 239b
Fecal N excretion, g/d 222 220 219 197
N Efficiency
Milk N, % of N intake 29.6 29.5 30.4 30.4
lb of milk/lb of N excreted 84.5a 87.2a 94.3b 99.8b
1Measured in vivo.
2Predicted by NRC (2001) model.
abcMeans within the same row without a common superscript differ P < 0.05.

 

Case II.

Formulations using RUP/RDP and specific amino acids to reduce CP intake.
This concept applies RDP/RUP in predicting amino acid flows to the small intestinal tract, then adding specific amino acids to meet the cow’s requirements. The advantage is to reduce total N intake and hence, N excretion, while reducing total feed costs. Examples of using amino acid formulation to reduce CP and maintain milk yield are given below.

Example 1. VonKeyserlingk et al. (1999) formulated two diets for cows that were primarily in early lactation. The control diet was formulated according to the 1989 NRC recommendations. A second diet was formulated with the CNCPS system and included a commercial protein source and intestinally available MET source. Using a commercial protein source and “rumen by-pass” MET allowed the CP level in the grain mix to be reduced by 2.9% units and total TMR by 1% unit (Table 2).

 

Table 2. Diets formulated using NRC (1989) guidelines or CNCPS program.
Item NRC (1989) CNCPS
CP, % DM 18.7 17.7
ADF1, % DM 21.1 21.8
NEL, Mcal/lb 0.82 0.86
1Acid detergent fiber.

No difference was observed in DM intake or milk production between cows fed the diets formulated by the two methods (Table 3). The authors concluded that the CNCPS afforded the opportunity balance rations for reduced CP level without loss in milk production.

 

Table 3. Performance of dairy cows fed rations formulated by NRC (1989) guidelines or CNCPS formulation program.
Item NRC (1989) CNCPS
All cows
DMI, lb 47.4 46.6
Milk, lb 82.8 81.5
Multiparous Cows
Milk, lb 96.5 94.3
Milk fat, % 2.88 3.12
Milk protein, % 3.12 3.11
Primiparous Cows
Milk, lb 69.0 68.8
Milk fat, % 3.17 3.31
Milk protein, % 3.22 3.20

Example 2. Harrison et al. (2000) used the CPM (Cornell, Penn State, and Miner Institute) model to formulate two diets containing undegraded protein sources in the form of canola derivative or animal-marine blend. Each of these diets was estimated to be slightly deficient in LYS and MET. Two additional diets were formulated that were supplemented with a MET source and free LYS-HCl to improve the dietary supply of MET and LYS. The postpartum levels of MET and LYS in the non-supplemented diets were targeted to be at ~ 100% of the requirements (1.9% MET/MP and 6.4% LYS/MP) and 116% of MET (2.2% MET/MP) and 106% of LYS (6.6% LYS/MP) for supplemented diets. When formulating the diets, it was considered that 20 g of the commercial MET source provided 7 g of ruminal escape MET (Koenig et al.,1998) and 40 g of free LYS-HCl provided 8 g of ruminal escape LYS (Velle et al., 1998). Cows were fed the experimental diets from ~28 days before calving through week 17 postpartum. At 9 weeks post-partum, cows received rBST per label.

There tended to be increased yield of 3.5 FCM for cows fed the diet containing animal-marine bypass protein (Table 4). In early lactation, and at 14 to 17 weeks of lactation, there was an improvement in milk that appeared to be related to supplemental MET and LYS-HCl. In the early weeks of lactation (weeks 1 to 4) the MET supplemented cows fed the animal-marine blend protein source diet produced the most milk. After the beginning of rBST use (week 5), cows fed both un-supplemented diets (canola derivative and the animal-marine blend) produced more milk when supplemented with MET and LYS-HCl. A trend (P<0.14) was observed for increased milk fat percentage when the diets were supplemented with MET and LYS-HCl. These observations support the use of supplemental MET and LYS particularly during the critical need periods of early lactation and post rBST administration.

 

Table 4. Performance of cows fed diets containing supplemental sources of rumen undegraded amino acids.
P <
Item Treated canola protein Treated canola protein + Lys & Met Animal-marine blend protein Animal-marine blend protein + Lys & Met Pro-
tein
Suppl-
ement
Pro-
tein x Suppl
DMI, lb 48.2 48.0 48.8 47.7 NS NS NS
Milk, lb 85.4 85.6 87.1 87.3 NS NS NS
3.5 FCM, lb 86.9 87.6 89.3 91.1 0.08 NS NS
Milk fat, lb 3.08 3.12 3.19 3.28 0.03 NS NS
Milk fat, % 3.65 3.71 3.68 3.80 NS 0.14 NS
Milk protein, % 3.09 3.13 3.12 3.36 NS NS NS
Milk protein, lb 2.62 2.62 2.68 2.86 0.22 NS NS

Case III.

The importance of formulating for desired ratios of MET to LYS.
In another study (Harrison et al., 2003), researchers employed the CPM formulation model to reduce dietary CP from 18% to 16% by replacing alfalfa silage with corn silage and undegraded protein sources (Tables 5 & 6). Diet #3 was predicted to have the best ratio and supply of MET and LYS, and resulted in the highest milk yield, and ratio of milk true protein to diet protein (Table 7). The reduced milk yield of cows fed diet #2 emphasizes the need to ensure the ratio of LYS to MET is ~ 3.2 to 1. Total N import (as feed N) onto the dairy was reduced by nearly 9% and IOFC was increased 6.5% by diet #3.

 

Table 5. Chemical Analysis of Total Mixed Rations (% DM).
Item Diet 1 Diet 2 Diet 3 SE
CP 18.6 16.0 16.0 0.35
NDF1 38.9 41.2 44.7 1.88
Soluble CP 7.53 5.1 5.4 0.38
Soluble CP, % of CP 40.5 31.9 33.8
NFC2 31.9 34.4 30.7 2.16
1Neutral detergent fiber
2Nonfiber carbohydrate

 

Table 6. Diet Formulation Results from CPM
Item Diet 1 Diet 2 Diet 3
Lysine, % required 89 99 116
Methionine, % required 91 116 109
Ratio of Lys/Met 3.32 2.89 3.16
MP1 balance, g -477 -104 -117
1Metabolizable protein

 

Table 7. Response of cows to diets that differ in crude protein and ratio of lysine to methionine
Item Diet 1 Diet 2 Diet 3 SE P <
DMI, lb 44.9 45.1 45.1 2.97 NS
Milk, lb 78.8 77.9 82.5 5.10 NS
Milk Fat, % 3.80a 3.24b 3.79a 0.151 0.01
Milk Protein, % 3.08 3.08 3.07 0.071 NS
MUN, mg/dL 18.8a 13.0b 14.4b 0.92 0.01
CP Intake, lb/d 8.34 7.22 7.22
Milk True Protein/Feed CP 0.29 0.33 0.34
Reduction in CP imports, % 8.6 8.6
IOFC1, $/d/cow 5.49 4.64 5.85
1Income over feed costs

 

Case IV.

Impact of reduced dietary % CP on N excretion on a commercial dairy. A field study (Harrison et al., 2002) was conducted with a high producing herd to compare the general herd diet formulated at ~18% CP to a diet that was reformulated at ~17% (Table 8). Milk production was maintained while N imports to the farm (Tables 9 & 10) were decreased. In addition, the reformulated diet increased IOFC (Table 11). These results agree with those of Wattiaux and Karg (2004) who reported a 16% drop in urinary N when a diet with 18% CP was reformulated to 16.5% CP.

 

Table 8. Chemical compositions of a control diet and a reformulated diet containing supplemental amino acids.
Item Control Reformulated
CP, % DM 17.8 17.0
Soluble Protein, % DM 6.4 6.0
Soluble Protein, % CP 35.7 37.0
NDF<suo>1</sup>, % DM 32.4 32.7
NFC2, % DM 39.0 39.8
1Neutral detergent fiber
2Nonfiber carbohydrate

 

Table 9. Treatment response to a diet reformulated on the basis of metabolizable methionine and lysine.
Item Control Reformulated SE P <
DMI, lb 56.7 55.2
CP Intake, lb 10.1 9.4
Milk, lb 99.9 101.9 0.53 0.007
3.5 FCM, lb 96.0 96.6 0.46 0.32
Milk fat, % 3.28 3.21 0.014 0.001
Milk protein, % 2.90 2.93 0.006 0.0009
MUN, mg/dL 17.5 14.5
Milk True Protein: Intake Protein Ratio 0.285 0.316

 

Table 10. Effect on nitrogen excretion when a diet was reformulated on the basis of metabolizable lysine and methionine
Item Control Reformulated % Change
N intake, g/d 734 680 -7.4
Milk total N, g/d1 240 246 +2.5
Predicted Urinary N, g/d2 289 239 -17.3
Calculated Fecal N, g/d3 205 195 -5.0
1(Milk True Protein/6.38) X 1.17
2Urinary N (g/d) = 0.026 x BW (kg) X MUN (mg/dL); J Dairy Sci. 85:227-233.
3Fecal N = Intake N – Milk N – Urine N

 

Table 11. Economic impact of reformulating a diet on the basis of metabolizable lysine and methionine
Item Control Reformulated
Feed Costs, $/d/cow 4.82 4.88
Milk Income, $/d/cow 11.92 12.10
IOFC1, $/d/cow 7.10 7.22
1IOFC = Income over feed costs

 

Summary

Reducing CP intake of high-producing cows can be achieved by strategic use of undegraded protein sources and amino acids (LYS and MET) under a variety of diet conditions. Diet reformulations can reduce N excretions by ~10% without negatively affecting milk yield or IOFC. These successes require the use of ration balancing software that estimate the amino acid (MET and LYS especially) needs of the lactating cow. Use of undegraded protein sources that have dependable concentrations of amino acids is critical to achieve consistent production responses.

 

RUP Fig 1.jpg

 

 

Selected References

Burroughs, W., D.K. Nelson, and D.R. Mertens. 1975. Evaluation of protein nutrition by metabolizable protein and urea fermentation potential. J. Dairy Sci. 58:611-619.

Clark, J.H., T.H. Klusmeyer, and M.R. Cameron. 1992. Symposium: Nitrogen metabolism and amino acid nutrition in dairy cattle: Microbial protein synthesis and flows of nitrogen fractions to the duodenum of dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 75:2304-2323.

Harrison, J.H., D. Davidson, L. Johnson, M.L. Swift, M. VonKeyserlingk, M. Vazquez-Anon, and W. Chalupa. 2000. Effect of source of bypass protein and supplemental Alimet and lysine-HCl on lactation performance. J. Dairy Sci. 83(suppl 1):268.

Harrison, J.H., D. Davidson, J. Werkhoven, A. Werkhoven, S. Werkhoven, M. Vazquez-Anon, G. Winter, N. Barney, and W. Chalupa. 2002. Effectiveness of strategic ration balancing on efficiency of milk protein production and environmental impact. J. Dairy Sci. 85(suppl.1):205.

Harrison, J.H., R.L. Kincaid, W. Schager, L. Johnson, D. Davidson, L.D. Bunting, and W. Chalupa. 2003. Strategic ration balancing by supplementing lysine, methionine, and Prolak on efficiency of milk protein production and potential environmental impact. J. Dairy Sci. 86(Suppl 1):60.

Koenig, K.M., L.M. Rode, C.D. Knight, and P.R. McCullough. 1999. Ruminal escape, gastrointestinal absorption, and response of serum methionine to supplementation of liquid methionine hydroxyl analog in dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 82:355.

NRC. 1989. National Research Council. Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle. Vol. 6th rev. ed. Natl. Acad. Sci., Washington, DC.

NRC. 2001. National Research Council. Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle. Vol. 7th rev. ed. Natl. Acad. Sci., Washington, DC.

Reynal, S.M. and G.A. Broderick. 2005. Effect of dietary level of rumen-degraded protein on production and nitrogen metabolism in lactating dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 88:4045-4064.

Stokes, S.R., W.H. Hoover, T.K. Miller, and R. Blauweikel. 1991. Ruminal digestion and microbial utilization of diets varying in type of carbohydrate and protein. J. Dairy Sci. 74:871-881.

Tamminga, S. 1992. Nutrition management of dairy cows as a contribution to pollution control. J. Dairy Sci. 75:345-357.

Velle W., T.I. Kanui, A. Aulie, and O.C. Sjaastad. 1998. Ruminal escape and apparent degradation of amino acids administered intraruminally in mixtures to cows. J. Dairy Sci. 81:3231-3238.

VonKeyserlingk, M.A.G., M.L. Swift, and J.A. Shelford. 1999. Use of the Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System and rumen-protected methionine to maintain milk production in cows receiving reduced protein diets. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 79:397-400.

Wattiaux, M. A. 1998. Protein metabolism in dairy cows. In: Technical Dairy Guide—Nutrition, 2nd edition. The Babcock Institute for International Dairy Research and Development. The University of Wisconsin.

Wattiaux, M.A and K.L. Karg. 2004. Protein level for alfalfa and corn silage-based diets: II. Nitrogen balance and manure characteristics. J. Dairy Sci. 87:3492-3502.

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Disclaimer

This fact sheet reflects the best available information on the topic as of the publication date. Date 6-20-2006

This Feed Management Education Project was funded by the USDA NRCS CIG program. Additional information can be found at Feed Management Publications.

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This project is affiliated with the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center.

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Project Information

Detailed information about training and certification in Feed Management can be obtained from Joe Harrison, Project Leader, jhharrison@wsu.edu, or Becca White, Project Manager, rawhite@wsu.edu.

Author Information

R. L. Kincaid rkincaid@wsu.edu
J. H. Harrison
R. A. White
Washington State University

Reviewer Information

Floyd Hoisington – Consulting Nutritionist

Michael Wattiaux – University of Wisconsin

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Grouping Dairy Cows

Introduction

This fact sheet has been developed to support the implementation of the Natural Resources Conservation Service Feed Management 592 Practice Standard. The Feed Management 592 Practice Standard was adopted by NRCS in 2003 as another tool to assist with addressing resource concerns on livestock and poultry operations. Feed management can assist with reducing the import of nutrients to the farm and reduce the excretion of nutrients in manure.

The trend over the past 15 years has been to feed a single total mixed ration to the dairy herd. Higher producing cows have a greater dry matter intake and, therefore, receive more nutrients daily. Unfortunately, most feeding systems consequently over-feed lower producers to assure that higher producers receive enough feed of the correct concentration of nutrients. Feeds are usually inexpensive compared to the return generated by milk sales, and the results of this feeding practice were higher production at a moderate cost.

Surveys of milk production versus nutrient consumption done regionally around the United States have shown significant over-feeding of protein and phosphorus on dairy farms. In some cases, rations provided as much as 50% more phosphorus than needed for the herd’s production level. Certainly, these high levels can be reduced through the choice of feed ingredients and more precise mineral feeding, however producers want assurance their cows have adequate nutrients for optimum milk production. There is a middle ground where producers can feed for optimum performance while meeting the demands of changing environmental constraints.

Dividing the herd into two or three feeding groups allows tailoring rations more closely to the production level and nutrient requirements of the group. By feeding more cows more closely to their requirements, a producer can reduce waste and the excretion of excess nitrogen and phosphorus.

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The Basics of Grouping Cows

Obviously, a dairy farm must have facilities so cows can be divided into multiple groups. The size of the groups are influenced by the size of the milking parlor, the barns or corrals available for housing the cows, other grouping currently done (dry cows, heifers), and the ability to deliver different rations to different groups of cows. Furthermore, the average age of the herd, average days in milk, and reproductive goals (AI, bull bred, etc.) are all factors that must be considered.

There are many schemes for deciding which cows to group together. Some producers group cows by days in milk or where they are in the production curve. This method is roughly equal to grouping by daily milk production, but some cows produce twice as much daily milk as other cows at the same point in the lactation cycle. Other farms group according to the cows’ reproductive status. Higher producing, early lactation cows are usually not bred so putting them together in a group allows feeding for the higher production and for more efficient heat detection and artificial insemination. However, not all early lactation cows produce at the same level. The most successful way to group cows has been shown to be selecting cows based on the nutrients required per pound of feed; for example nutrients such as crude protein, starch, sugar, fiber, fat, vitamins, and minerals. While directly related to daily milk production, it is a more precise way to feed cows what they need without waste and over-excretion of nutrients (Williams, 1992).

It appears that feeding in three groups produces higher income over feed costs than feeding two groups and group feeding in two groups results are better than one group feeding (Williams, 2002). A California survey showed feeding three groups reduced nitrogen excretion by 15% over herds feeding a one-group TMR (Castillo, 2000).

Why not then?

There are some important considerations when grouping cows for more efficient use of feed nutrients. It takes professional help to formulate rations for and to monitor the performance of different production groups. A nutritionist can also help monitor the quality of feed ingredients used in rations.

All feeds vary in nutrient content load to load and throughout storage. Table 1 shows the mean content of protein and net energy-lactation of common feeds in the northeastern U.S. It also shows the standard deviation derived from the group of feed samples. Adding and subtracting the standard deviation from the mean shows the range in nutrient content for two-thirds of the samples. The other third of the samples tested outside of this range. For example, the mean corn silage contained 7.9% crude protein, and had a standard deviation of 1.3%. This means that two-thirds of the samples tested between 6.6% and 9.2% CP, so one-third tested either greater or less than that range. A ration formulated to supply 6.1 pounds of protein to support the average milk production of the group could be as low as 5.5 pounds and this would result in a loss of almost 7 pounds of milk per day.

Table 1. Mean composition and standard deviation of Crude Protein and Net Energy Lactation of some feedstuffs used in the northeastern US.
  Crude Protein % NEL (Mcal/kg)
Ingredients Mean S.D. Mean S.D.
  ———-% of dry matter———-
Mixed hay 15.9 2.9 1.25 0.18
Mixed haylage 15.6 3.2 1.15 0.20
Corn silage 7.9 1.3 1.50 0.15
Ground ear corn 9.4 1.6 1.85 0.07
  ————% as fed————-
Brewers dried grains 25.4 2.0 1.47 0.07
Corn gluten feed 20.9 1.3 1.72 0.08
Corn gluten meal 63.5 4.1 1.81 0.09
Corn grain 9.1 0.5 1.78 0.04
Distillers dried grains 27.5 2.5 1.86 0.11
Feather meal 85.3 1.8 1.48 0.02
Meat and bone meal 50.8 2.9 1.51 0.09
Molasses 3.2 0.3 1.23 0.02
Soybean meal (Solvent) 49.5 1.2 1.81 0.05
Wheat Grain 15.3 0.9 1.81 0.04

How can the risk of nutrient variation be controlled? Nutrients can be over-fed, but that defeats the point of grouping for more efficiency and results in more nutrients excreted. Formulating rations with multiple sources of protein and energy can reduce the risk because it is unlikely that all sources would vary on the low side at one time. Blending single commodities can help as well. One truck load of corn taken from storage containing multiple loads of corn will vary less than a single source. (St. Pierre, 1999). Therefore, receiving larger quantities (train car load vs. truck load) of a single ingredient is best if inventory control, purchasing, and transportation will allow.

Testing all feeds is important in managing the variation of feedstuffs. Notice that forages vary the most so they must be monitored closely. Experienced managers and researchers suggest the following testing schedule (St. Pierre, 1999):

All feeds – Protein, fat, fiber, minerals at purchase or harvest
Forages – weekly for moisture, monthly for protein, fiber (more often if fed quickly)
TMRs – monthly for particle size before and after eating
All feeds – four times a year for macrominerals
Silages – twice a year for VFAs and pH

One obvious way to control variation in the quality of feedstuffs is to reduce or eliminate the use of the feeds most prone to large variations.

Group Feeding Strategies

When feeding groups of cows, nutrients are provided to the average daily production of the group. The average cow in each of three groups is closer in production to her group-mates than the average cow is to the entire herd. However, by feeding the average cow in the group, rations will be inadequate for the higher producing cows in the group. Higher dry matter intake will make up for some of the shortage, but most managers will “lead feed” the group to supply necessary nutrients to the top half of the group. Lead feeding factors have been developed through trial and error and by research using commercial dairy herds. One rule of thumb to lead feeding was to feed the average cow plus one standard deviation of the variation in the group. If the average for a group is 70 pounds/cow-day and the standard deviation in the group is 5 pounds; the herd would be fed for 75 pounds per day. This works when production variation is small due to many production groups. When feeding two or three groups, researchers in Virginia and Ohio have developed lead factors as shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Optimum ration lead factors for energy and protein proposed by The Ohio State University and those proposed by McGilliard et al. at V. P. I.
    Lead factors
Number of Groups Group # NE1% CP% V. P. I.%
1 Group   133 126 132
2 Groups 1 Highs 119 113 117
2 Lows 130 125 123
3 Groups 1 Top 115 111 114
2 Middle 121 117 110
3 Lows 129 124 121

Notice two things: 1.) Lead factors are different for protein and energy in the Ohio work, 2.) The level of lead feeding over the entire herd can be reduced when feeding more production groups. In a three group dairy, the top string would be fed 115% of the average nutrient requirement based on energy in the Ohio system or 114% of average in the VPI system.

In summary, grouping cows can be part of a total feed management program to reduce waste and the excretion of unused nutrients. Grouping cows by production level or stage of lactation is most common. In addition, grouping cows is beneficial for dairy producers because it helps control feed costs. It promotes feeding valuable nutrients to benefit cows at different stages of lactation and results in optimum efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

References

Castillo A.R., E. Kebreab , D.E.Beever and J. France. 2000. A review of efficiency of nitrogen utilization in dairy cows and its relationship with the environmental pollution. J. Anim. and Feed Sci. 9:1-32.

Castillo. A.R., E. Kebreab, D.E. Beever, J.H. Barbi, J.D. Sutton, H.C. Kirby and J. France. 2001. The effect of protein supplementation on nitrogen utilization in lactating dairy cows fed grass silage diets. J. Anim. Sci. 79:247-253.

Dou, Z., R.A. Kohn, J.D. Ferguson, R.C. Boston, and J.D. Newbold. 1996.Managing nitrogen on dairy farms: an integrated approach I. Model description. J. Dairy Sci. 79:2071-2080.

Grant, R.J. and J.L. Albright. 2001. Effect of Animal Grouping on Feeding Behavior and Intake of Dairy Cattle. J. Dairy Sci. 84(E.Suppl.):E156-E163. McGilliard, M.L, J.M. Swisher, and R.E. James. 1983. Grouping lactating cows by nutritional requirements for feeding. J.Dairy Sci. 66:1084-1093.

Sniffen C.J., R.W. Beverly, C.S. Mooney, M.B. Roe and A.L. Skidmore. 1993. Nutrient requirement versus supplied in the dairy cow: strategies to account for variability. J. Dairy Sci. 76:3160-3169.

Sniffen C.J. 1991. Grouping management and physical facilities. Vet. Clin. North Am. Small Anim. Pract. 7:465-478.

St-Pierre, N.R. and C.S. Thraen. 1999. Animal Grouping Strategies, Sources of Variation, and Economic Factors Affecting Nutrient Balance on Dairy Farms. J. Dairy Sci. 82 (Suppl. 2):72-83.

Williams, C.B. and P.A. Oltenacu. 1992. Evaluation of Criteria Used to Group Lactating Cows Using a Dairy Production Model. J.Dairy Sci. 75:155-160.

“Extension programs and policies are consistent with federal and state laws and regulations on nondiscrimination regarding race, sex, religion, age, color, creed, national or ethnic origin; physical, mental or sensory disability; marital status, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era or disabled veteran. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local Extension office.”

 

Disclaimer

This fact sheet reflects the best available information on the topic as of the publication date. Date 6-20-2006

This Feed Management Education Project was funded by the USDA NRCS CIG program. Additional information can be found at Feed Management Publications.

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This project is affiliated with the LPELC.

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Project Information

Detailed information about training and certification in Feed Management can be obtained from Joe Harrison, Project Leader, jhharrison@wsu.edu, or Becca White, Project Manager, rawhite@wsu.edu.

Author Information

Mike Gamroth
Extension Dairy Specialist
Oregon State University

Reviewer Information

Tamilee Nennich – Texas A & M

Vince Waters – Consulting Nutritionist

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Direct Fed Microbial Products (DFM)

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Introduction

This fact sheet has been developed to support the implementation of the Natural Resources Conservation Service Feed Management 592 Practice Standard. The Feed Management 592 Practice Standard was adopted by NRCS in 2003 as another tool to assist with addressing resource concerns on livestock and poultry operations. Feed management can assist with reducing the import of nutrients to the farm and reduce the excretion of nutrients in manure.

The concept of Direct Fed Microbial (DFM) involves the feeding of beneficial microbes to dairy cattle when they are under periods of stress (disease, ration changes, environmental, or production challenges). Probiotics is another term for this category of feed additives. Probiotics or DFM have been shown to improve animal performance in controlled studies. In this section, we will evaluate bacterial additives (not fungal or yeast-based products).

Please check this link first if you are interested in organic or specialty dairy production

Role of Direct Fed Microbials

The proposed mechanisms for improvement in dairy cattle performance when feeding DFM are outlined below.

  • Produce of anti-bacterial compounds (acids, bacteriocins, or antibiotics)
  • Compete against undesirable (pathogenic) organisms for nutrients and/or colonization of the digestive tract (competitive exclusion)
  • Produce nutrients or other growth factors
  • Stimulate production of enzymes and/or stimulate growth of natural bacteria
  • Metabolize or detoxify undesirable compounds (such lactic acid, mycotoxins, etc.)
  • Stimulate the immune system

Several studies the have reported positive animal performance when using a combination of several microbial species listed in Table 1.

The mode action and dosages of many bacterial species are given in Table 2. For example, Lactobacillus acidophilis produces lactic acid that may lower the pH in the small intestine thereby inhibiting the growth of undesirable microbes (pathogens). Calves that have been stressed (i.e. weaning, scouring, and shipping challenges) have responded quite favorability to large doses of Bifidobacterium, Enterococcus, Bacillus, and Lactobacillus. Megasphaera elsdenii is a major lactate utilizing organism found in the rumen of cattle fed high grain diets. Feedlot producers have used DFM when adapting cattle to high energy diets thereby reducing lactic acidosis. Applications in high producing cows are being explored in the field. Propionibacteria have the ability to convert lactic acid and glucose to acetic and propionic acid thereby potentially improving the energy status of early lactation cows. Similar results have been demonstrated in beef cattle through improved feed efficiency. Certain species of bacteria can reduce/detoxify nitrates in the ration.

Practical Considerations

The bacteria in DFM products must be alive to impact ruminal fermentation or lower gut responses. Thus, the viability and number of organisms fed must be ensured at the time of feeding to ensure performance responses. The use of DNA figure printing offers an approach to select the optimal strain(s) of bacteria to ensure optimal animal performance. Some products have guaranteed levels (i.e. 1 x 106 – 10 CFU/g) of micro-organisms in the product to achieve animal performance.

The method of delivery of these products can vary from powders, pastes, boluses, to capsules using feed or water as carriers. If water is used, chlorination, temperature, minerals, flow rates, ionophores, and antibiotics must be considered to avoid killing or reducing the effectiveness of the DFM product. For example, the approval of monensin, which targets gram positive bacteria in the rumen, may result in certain DFM products being less effective due to the microbials being affected by monensin. Producers and nutritionists need to ask for controlled studies demonstrating the use of a particular DFM product in combination with monensin. Some DFM products may require a higher feeding rate or dosage to “seed down” the digestive tract for several days to out compete pathogenic bacteria followed by reducing the feeding rate to achieve a maintenance rate.

The ability of DFM to survive feed processing, especially pelleting, should be requested for each product. In addition, viability data during prolonged feed storage and stability when mixed with low pH silages in the bunk for several hours should be requested. The viability of DFM products in the market place has improved over the years, but follow manufacturers directions concerning heat, oxygen exposure, and moisture to ensure product performance and ultimately animal performance.

Summary

At this time, most nutritionists are “cautious” when adding DFM. However, the success in controlled and field studies has demonstrated improvements in animal performance. The use of DFM’s in milk fed calves seems to warrant the inclusion of a DFM product until dry matter intake of starter is over two pounds per calf per day. The inclusion of DFM products in drench products administered to off-feed cows, cows treated with high levels of antibiotics for various diseases, and those cows under stress would appear to be warranted. At this point, ask for data on animal performance responses to DFM products, evaluate the type and number of microbes added, and follow handling guidelines to ensure product performance and ultimately animal performance.

Table 1. Effects of bacterial DFM on dry matter intake, milk yield, and milk composition in lactating dairy cows in five studies (Krehbiel et al.).
Treatment number Milk (lb/day) Fat (%) Protein (%) DMI (lb)
Control
L. acidophilis (BT1386)
16
16
64.0a
68.0b
3.81
3.75
3.34
3.36
na
na
Control
L. acidophilis (BT1386)
550
550
70.0a
73.9b
3.64
3.63
na
na
46.6
47.1
Control**
Yeast culture
L. acidophilis + yeast culture
6
6
6
18.0a
20.5b
20.4b
3.30a
3.96b
3.57b
3.09
3.15
3.13
na
na
na
Control
Yeast + L. plantarum and E. faecium
32
32
106.0
108.0
na
na
3.01a
3.27b
54.1
55.2
Control
L. acidophilis, L. casei, E. faecium + Mannanoligosaccharide
100
100
85.4
87.1
4.24
4.34
3.02
3.04
55.0
54.1
abMeans in columns differ (P < 0.05)
**Tropical feeding conditions

 

Table 2. Bacteria with potential use as DFM (Kung, 2001).
Source Strain Dose Effect
Megashrera
elsdenii
B1459
407A
8.7 x 106 Prevent lactic acidosis when diets change to higher fermented CHO
Lactobacillus
acidophilis
na 1 x 109 Increase milk yield when feed intake depressed and under stress
Propionibacteria
and L. acidophilis
P-63
5345
1 x 109
1 x 108
Improve feed efficiency during adaption to higher CHO diet
Propionibacterium
Freudenrechii and L.
acidophilis (B2FFO4)
na 1 x 109
1 x 108
Improve feed efficiency
Propionibacterium
acidipropionic
DH42 1 x 109 Increased propionic acid
Propionibacterium
Freudenrechii plus lactobacilli
na na Improve weight gain in calves

Selected References

  • Hutjens, M.F. 2005. Feed additives in dairy nutrition, an industry and farm perspective. New England Nutrition Conf. Proc. p. 82-88.
  • Hutjens, M. F. 1991. Feed additives. Vet Clinics North Am.: Food Animal Practice. 7:2:525.
  • Krehbiel, C.R., S.R. Rust, G.Zhand, and S.E. Gilliand. 2003. Bacterial direct-fed microbials in ruminant diets: Performance response and mode of action. J. Anim Sci (E.Suppl.2):E120-E132.
  • Kung, L. Jr. 2001. Direct-fed microbials for dairy cows and enzymes for lactating dairy cows: New theories and applications. Penn State Dairy Cattle Workshop Proc. Pp. 86-102.
  • National Research Council. 2001. Nutrient Requirement of Dairy Cattle, 7th edition. National Academy Press. Washington, D.C. p. 192.
  • Yoon, I.K. and M.D. Stern. 1995. Influence of direct-fed microbials on rumenal microbial fermentation and performance of ruminants: A review. J. Animal Sci. 8:6:533

“Extension programs and policies are consistent with federal and state laws and regulations on nondiscrimination regarding race, sex, religion, age, color, creed, national or ethnic origin; physical, mental or sensory disability; marital status, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era or disabled veteran. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local Extension office.”

 

Disclaimer

This fact sheet reflects the best available information on the topic as of the publication date. Date 5-27-2007

This Feed Management Education Project was funded by the USDA NRCS CIG program. Additional information can be found at Feed Management Publications.

Image:Feed mgt logo4.JPG This project is affiliated with the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center.

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Project Information

Detailed information about training and certification in Feed Management can be obtained from Joe Harrison, Project Leader, jhharrison@wsu.edu, or Becca White, Project Manager, rawhite@wsu.edu.

Author Information

Michael F. Hutjens
Department of Animal Sciences
University of Illinois, Urbana
hutjensm@uiuc.edu

Reviewer Information

Dave Casper – Agri-King, Inc.
Jim Drackley – University of Illinois

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Five Steps to the Development and Implementation of a Feed Management Plan

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Introduction

This fact sheet has been developed to support the implementation of the Natural Resources Conservation Service Feed Management 592 Practice Standard. The Feed Management 592 Practice Standard was adopted by NRCS in 2003 as another tool to assist with addressing resource concerns on livestock and poultry operations. Feed management can assist with reducing the import of nutrients to the farm and reduce the excretion of nutrients in manure.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service has adopted a practice standard called Feed Management (592) and is defined as “managing the quantity of available nutrients fed to livestock and poultry for their intended purpose”. The national version of the practice standard can be found in a companion fact sheet entitled “An Introduction to Natural Resources Feed Management Practice Standard 592”. Please check in your own state for a state-specific version of the standard.

The national Feed Management Education team has developed a systematic 5-step development and implementation process for the Feed Management Practice Standard as shown in figures 1 and 2. The steps of the flow diagram were chosen to coincide with the sections of the Feed Management Practice Standard. The first step focuses on defining the purpose(s) for considering the Feed Management Standard on a particular farm, either to: 1) feed to minimize excess nutrients in manure while maintaining production, performance, and reproduction, or 2) feed to improve net farm income by feeding more efficiently.

Please check this link first if you are interested in organic or specialty dairy production

Why Consider Feed Management?

The first step focuses on defining the purpose(s) for considering the Feed Management Standard on a particular farm, either to: 1) feed to minimize excess nutrients in manure while maintaining production, performance, and reproduction, or 2) feed to improve net farm income by feeding more efficiently.

Key participants at step 1 would be the producer, the nutrient management planner, and NRCS staff.

Where Does the Practice Apply?

The second step of the flow diagram focuses on identifying the conditions where the practice applies and making an initial assessment of the opportunity for the full development of a Feed Management Plan. The conditions where the practice applies as noted the in 592 standard include:

  1. Whole farm imbalance
  2. Soil nutrient build-up
  3. Land base not large enough, or
  4. Seeking to enhance nutrient efficiencies.

After defining the condition(s) for use of the 592 standard, an opportunity checklist is then used make an initial assessment of developing a complete feed management plan. The opportunity checklist can be found in a companion fact sheet entitled “Use of the Opportunity Checklist in Feed Management Plan Development”. The Opportunity Checklist can be found in species specific versions for beef, dairy, poultry and swine.

Key participants at step 2 would be the producer, the nutrient management planner, and NRCS staff.

How Do We Reduce Manure Nutrients?

The third step of the flow diagram focuses on the question of “how to reduce nutrients on manure used on the farm”. This step will not be considered by all farms. Two major ways that a reduction in on-farm manure nutrients can be achieved is through feed ingredient and exporting manure off-farm. Making the decision to make a ration change vs. moving manure off-farm has major economic implications.

An electronic decision aid tool has been developed to assist with this decision. The tool is called FNMP$ and a description and set of instructions can be found in a companion fact sheet entitled “Feed Nutrient Management Planning Economics (FNMP$)…Connecting Feed Decisions with Crop Nutrient Management Plans”. This spreadsheet tool estimates the quantity of manure nitrogen, phosphorus, and solids excreted based upon user inputs of feed program and animal performance (based upon procedures contained within ASABE Standard D384.2). In addition, using procedures defined in USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service publication “Agricultural Waste Management Field Handbook”, an estimate of harvested and crop available nutrients are estimated. This information is then used to develop an estimate of:

  1. land requirements for agronomic utilization of the manure
  2. time requirements for land application
  3. costs associated with land application and potential nutrient value (N and P only) of manure.

Key participants at step 3 would be the producer, the nutrient management planner, and the nutritionist.

Develop the Feed Management Plan

The fourth step of the flow diagram focuses on the development of the feed management plan. The key tool to assist with the writing of the plan is the Feed Management Plan (FMP) Checklist. The FMP checklist can be found in a companion fact sheet entitled “Use of the Feed Management Plan Checklist in Feed Management Plan Development”. The Feed Management Plan Checklist can be found in species specific versions for beef, dairy, poultry and swine.

A national Feed Management Plan template has been developed and can be found in the companion fact sheet entitled “National Feed Management Plan Template”.

Key participants at step 4 would be the producer and the nutritionist.

Implement and Monitor the Plan

The fifth and final step of the flow diagram focuses on Feed Management Plan implementation and monitoring. This step focuses on implementing those practices that will help achieve the purpose(s) that were selected at step 1. In addition, review dates are established so that the FMP will be utilized as an active management tool.

It is important that the outcomes of the feed management plan as it relates to manure volume and nutrient composition are communicated to the nutrient management planner as this may affect cropping recommendations.

Key participants at step 5 would be the producer and the nutritionist.

Summary

Following the five steps to the development and implementation of a feed management plan, can provide the basis for thoroughly evaluating the merits of feed management in relation to nutrient management at the whole farm level. Clear and frequent communication with everyone managing nutrients on the farm will be a key factor to the success of the feed management plan.

“Extension programs and policies are consistent with federal and state laws and regulations on nondiscrimination regarding race, sex, religion, age, color, creed, national or ethnic origin; physical, mental or sensory disability; marital status, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era or disabled veteran. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local Extension office.”

Feed Management Plan Implementation and Development Flow Charts

 

Disclaimer

This fact sheet reflects the best available information on the topic as of the publication date. Date 5-25-2007

This Feed Management Education Project was funded by the USDA NRCS CIG program. Additional information can be found at Feed Management Publications.

Image:Feed mgt logo4.JPG This project is affiliated with the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center.

Image:usda,nrcs,feed_mgt_logo.JPG

Project Information

Detailed information about training and certification in Feed Management can be obtained from Joe Harrison, Project Leader, jhharrison@wsu.edu, or Becca White, Project Manager, rawhite@wsu.edu.

Author Information

J. H. Harrison jhharrison@wsu.edu, and R. A. White, Washington State University
A Sutton and Todd Applegate, Purdue University
Galen Erickson and Rick Koelsch, University of Nebraska
R. Burns, Iowa State University

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