Improving Income Over Feed Cost in Dairy Operations

Dairy Test D1901

Performance Benefits of Balancing Amino Acids in Dairy Cow Diets.

Boveta Nutrition’s mission is to enable livestock operations to operate more efficiently and profitability while minimizing feed waste and reducing the environmental footprint of meat and milk production. The commercial dairy study summarized in this report confirms that Boveta’s patent-pending formulation approach can be used to optimize diets and improve performance and the feed efficiency of dairy cattle in a commercial dairy setting.

Test Facts and Data
  1. Farm Location: Wayland, Michigan
  2. Study Dates: January 7-March 2, 2020
  3. Cows: 180 Holstein and Jersey cows were divided into two equal groups. Groups were balanced based upon breed, parity, stage of lactation (DIM), mean milk production and milk components. The number of cows < 80 DIM were equal between groups.
  4. Study Design: A three-week, co-variant adjustment period was followed by a 56-day test. The number of animals in each group and average daily milk production were reported on a daily basis to correlate with the pen mean for daily DMI.
  5. Treatments: Current diet vs. Boveta optimized diet
The Bottom Line

Milk yield increased by 4.7 lb/day (P<.01) or 5.5% (89.7 vs. 85.0 lb/d) when the optimized diet was fed. Yield of energy corrected milk increased by 6.8 lb/cow/day and efficiency of production (ECM/DMI) was increased by 7.9% when the optimized diet was fed. Feeding the optimized diet resulted in a net advantage of $.46/cow/day if only the milk protein and solids yields were used in the calculations and if all components (protein, fat, solids) are considered then the estimated net advantage for the optimized diet was $.95 cow/day. The results of this study demonstrate the potential to improve the profitability and productivity of lactating dairy cows by feeding diets optimized using Boveta’s patent-pending optimization program.

Experimental Procedures:

This study was conducted at a privately owned dairy near Wayland, MI. The day-to-day aspects of conducting the trial was overseen by farm management and the farm’s nutritional consultant. This experiment (56 days) was conducted from January 7, 2020 until March 2, 2020.

Animals: Holstein and Jersey cows (n ≅ 180) were divided into two equal groups. Groups were balanced based upon breed, parity, stage of lactation (DIM), mean milk production and milk components measured one week before the co-variant adjustment period. The number of cows less than 80 DIM were equal between groups. Cows were housed in a free stall facility and fed two separate rations. Cows were milked 2X per day in a 3 x 4 Trigon parlor and all milk yields were recorded.

Diets and Treatments: A three-week, co-variant adjustment period was followed by a 56-day test. The base ration contained corn silage, alfalfa haylage, corn snaplage, vitamins, and minerals. The base diet and the optimized diet were formulated to be iso-caloric, iso-nitrogenous and similar in RDP (% of DM).

The control diet contained a mix of vegetable proteins (dry gluten feed, canola meal, AminoPlus bypass SBM) and blood meal and was formulated to provide approximately 16.4% crude protein and 7.2% RUP on a DM basis. The estimated RUP Lys:RUP Met ratio of the control diet was 2.73. The Boveta formulation program was used to evaluate the control diet and, based upon this evaluation, the sources and amounts of nitrogenous compounds and proteins supplying RDP and RUP were adjusted to align dietary profile of essential amino acids with dietary ME content and animal requirements. Also, encapsulated lysine and encapsulated methionine were added to the optimized diet to increase the supply of MP Lys and MP Met, respectively.

Furthermore, because of concerns with forage quality and availability and milk component yields on the farm, the amounts of forage and grain in the optimized diet varied from the control diet. Specifically, the optimized diet contained greater amounts of corn silage and corn grain and lesser amounts of haylage and corn earlage. The composition of the control and optimized diets are presented in the table below.

Rations were offered as a TMR once daily for ad libitum intake. Delivered diets were pushed up 8-10 times daily to encourage ad libitum DMI. The amount of feed offered was adjusted to allow for about five percent feed refusals. Feed refusals were measured and recorded daily, with the average pen DMI reported in the table below. No differences were observed in DMI for pens fed the control and optimized diet.

Data Collection and Analysis:

Animals and Performance: The number of animals in each group and average daily milk production were reported on a daily basis to correlate with the pen mean for daily DMI.

Feed Amounts: The TMR were mixed and delivered with a Luck Now feed mixer. Feed DM was monitored daily and adjustments in amounts of feed offered were made accordingly. Feed offered and estimated consumption (offered/refusal) were recorded daily.

Feed Samples: Feed samples were collected weekly and dry matters determined and used to make adjustment in the rations (as-fed basis). Samples of individual feeds collected at the beginning were analyzed for nutrient analysis. Samples of diets were collected weekly and a composite sample formed for nutrient analysis to verify the nutrient profile of the diets consumed.

Milk Yield: Individual milk weights were automatically recorded at each milking for all animals. Milk yield was recorded for three weeks prior to the test through one week after completion to monitor the effect of transitions around the experimental diets. Mean individual milk yield was calculated for each week of the test and used in statistical analysis.

Milk Composition: Milk samples were collected from two consecutive milkings on days -7, 0, 28 and 56. Milk protein, fat, lactose, somatic cell counts, and milk urea nitrogen were determined by Eastern Laboratory Services (Medina, OH).

Statistical Analysis

Data was analyzed using a repeated measure, completely randomized design. Yields of milk and milk components were co-variant adjusted using data collected in the pre-test period. The statistical model included DIM to account for the effects of lactation stage. Significance was declared at P<0.10 unless otherwise stated.

Discussion and Conclusions
  1. Milk yield increased by 4.7 lb/day (P<.01) or 5.5% (89.7 vs. 85.0 lb/d) when the optimized diet was fed. Milk fat content improved from 3.66% to 3.75% (P< .01) and milk protein showed a substantial and significant improvement from 3.06% to 3.22% (P<.01) when cows were fed optimized diets. Other milk components were largely unchanged except that MUN increased (P<.01) when the optimized diet was fed.
  2. Yields of milk fat and protein were substantially improved when the optimized diet was fed, owing to the increase in milk volume and percentages of fat and protein in the milk. Fat yield was improved by .25 lb/cow/day and protein yield was increased by .29 lb/day. Milk solids yield also was increased. Yield of energy corrected milk (adjusted to 3.5% fat and 3.2% protein) increased by 6.8 lb/cow/day, and improvement of 7.8%. The estimated efficiency of production (ECM/DMI) was increased by 7.9% when the optimized diet was fed. These results demonstrate the potential to improve efficiency of milk production and output of milk components by aligning dietary metabolizable amino acids to estimated ME intake and requirements of the lactating cow.
  3. The milk protein response can be attributed to the improvement in supply of essential amino acids, notably lysine and methionine, which was the intent in making adjustments to optimize the diet. The milk fat response can be explained by the adjustments made to the amounts of grain and forages in the optimized diet, particularly in the amount of corn silage fed. Thus, for purposes of this discussion the improvement in milk fat % and yield is attributed to the greater amount of fermentable starch in the optimized diet.
  4. Although the optimized diet was more expensive (+$.47/cow/day additional feed cost), a net benefit to the farm occurred because of improved milk efficiency and improved yields of milk fat and milk protein. The economic evaluation of the trial results shows that feeding the Boveta optimized diet resulted in an overall net advantage of $.46/cow/day if fat is excluded and only the milk protein and solids yields are used in the calculations. If the economics take into consideration the effects on all components (protein, fat, solids) then the net advantage for the optimized diet was $.95/cow/day. Using just the lower figure shows that feeding the optimized diet to 92 cows for 53 days resulted in a net gain to the dairy farm of $2,243.
  5. The results of this study demonstrate the potential to improve the profitability and productivity of lactating dairy cows by feeding diets optimized using Boveta’s patent-pending optimization program.
Composition of Diets Fed
Ingredient, lb per day as fed Control Optimized
Corn silage

51.1

66.3

Alfalfa haylage 20.6 19.0
Corn earlage 15.8 14.9
Wheat straw 1.44 1.30
Fine ground corn 3.41 4.83
Dry corn gluten feed 5.06 2.63
Canola meal 5.00 5.11
Amino Plus soybean meal 2.84 4.43
Dry distillers grains .556
Bloodmeal .556 .557
Urea .101 .164
NitroShure slow release nitrogen .101
Adisseo Smartamine M .035
Ajinimoto L Gen 3 .267
Megalac (lipid) .515 .511
Minerals, vitamins, additives 2.06 2.06
Total 109 122
Nutrient content and intakes Unadjusted Diet Adjusted Diet
Predicted dry matter intake, lb/day 59 59
Dry matter, % 54.1 53.9
Protein, % of DM 16.4 16.6
RUP, % of DM 7.19 7.61
RDP, % of DM 9.22 9.05
Soluble protein, % of DM 6.73 6.85
Fat, % of DM 4.01 4.11
ADF, % of DM 19.95 19.38
aNDF, % of DM 31.31 30.81
peNDF, % of DM 22.39 22.44
NFC, % of DM 40.30 40.50
NEL, mcal/cwt 72.0 73.0
Metabolizable Lys, g/d 185 223
Metabolizable Met, g/d 64 76
Metabolizable His, g/d 80 82
RUP Lys, g/d 89 142
RUP Met, g/d 33 44
RUP His, g/d 52 53
RUP Lys/Met 2.73 3.2

 

Feed intake and milk production

Item

Diet SEM P-value
Control Optimized Diet Diet x Period
DM intake, lb/d 62.6 62.5
Milk, lbs/d 85.02 89.65 0.69 <0.01 0.75
Protein, % 3.06 3.22 0.033 <0.01 <0.01
Fat, % 3.66 3.75 0.109 0.53 <0.01
Lactose % 4.71 4.74 0.024 0.4 0.45
OS, % 5.62 5.65 0.024 0.4 0.45
SCC x 1,000 cells/mL 176 184 46.4 0.9 0.47
MUN, mg/dL 13.9 15.5 0.2 <0.01 0.01

 

Economic evaluation

Item Control Optimized Optimized – Control
Milk, lb/d 85.0 89.7 4.7
ECM, lb/d 86.8 93.6 6.8
ECM/DMI 1.39 1.50 .11
Milk fat % 3.66 3.75 .09
Milk protein, % 3.06 3.22 .16
Other solids, % 5.58 5.60 .02
Fat, lb/d 3.11 3.36 .25
Protein, lb/d 2.60 2.89 .29
Other solids, lb/d 4.74 5.02 .28
Fat price, $/lb $1.98 $1.98  
Protein price, $/lb $3.03 $3.03  
Other solids, $/lb $.18 $.18  
Milk fat value, $/d $6.16 $6.65 $.49
Milk protein value, $/d $7.88 $8.76 $.88
Solids value, $/d $.85 $.90 $.05
Total milk value/Advantage, $/d $14.89 $16.31 $1.42/hd/day
Advantage Without fat $8.73 $9.66 $.93 /hd/day
Feed DM intake, lb/d 62.6 62.5 (.1)
Cost/lb of DM $0935 $.1011 $.0076
Feed cost, $/d $5.85 $6.32 $(.47)
Net advantage with fat included   $.95/hd/day
Net advantage without fat included   $.46/hd/day
Net revenue increase at only $.46 (92 cows fed optimized diet 53 days) $2,243
ECM calculated as:  .327 x lb milk + 12.95 x lb milk fat + 7.2 x lb milk protein