Improving Income Over Feed Cost In Dairy Operations

Dairy Test D2001

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: Martin, Michigan
    2. Study Dates: May 29 – July 10, 2020
    3. Cows: 430 Holstein cows housed in a single barn. Cow divided into two pens equalized for parity, DIM, and pretest milk yield and milk components. The number of cows < 80 DIM were equal between groups.
    4. Study Design: Randomized complete block with 3-week covariate period followed by 42-day lactation study. Individual production data and pen feed intakes summarized weekly.
    5. Treatments: Current diet vs. Boveta optimized diet
The Bottom Line

Statistical analysis shows that milk yield increased by 3.9 lb/day or 4% when the optimized diet was fed. Yield of energy corrected milk increased by 4.4 lb/cow/day and efficiency of production (ECM/DMI) was increased by 3.8% when the optimized diet was fed. Feeding the optimized diet improved IOFC by more than $1.00 per head per day on DHIA test days. The results of this study demonstrate the opportunity to improve a dairy’s performance and profitability using Boveta’s proprietary technology for optimizing dairy diets.

Experimental Procedures

This study was conducted on a privately owned dairy near Martin, MI. The day-to-day aspects of conducting the trial were overseen by the farm manager and the farm’s nutrition consultant. This experiment (42 days) was conducted from May 29, 2020 until July 10, 2020.

Animals: Holstein cows (n ≅ 450) were divided into two equal groups. Groups were balanced based upon parity, stage of lactation (DIM), mean milk production and milk components measured three weeks 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 3X per day in a 2 x 34 parlor and daily milk yields were recorded by treatment and individual cow milk yields were recorded weekly. The DHIA data collections on days -21, 0, 21 and 42 and the internal farm meters utilized on day 12 and day 32 of the test were used for statistical evaluation.

Diets and Treatments: A three-week, co-variant adjustment period was followed by a 42-day test. The day 0 DHIA test data was used as the covariate to equalize both groups on trial. The base ration contained corn silage, alfalfa haylage, corn gluten, liquid whey, canola meal, vitamins, and minerals. The base diet and the optimized diet were formulated to be as close to iso-caloric, iso-nitrogenous and similar in RDP (% of DM) as possible, to determine whether Boveta’s diet optimization approach could improve milk yield and/or components. Diets were formulated to contain a minimum of 16.0% CP and 6.6% RUP on a DM basis.

The primary sources of protein in the base diet were dry corn gluten feed and AminoPlus. The base diet was formulated to contain at least a 2.5:1 ratio of RUP-Lys:RUP-Met and a minimum of .30% RUP-Lys and .09% RUP-Met on a DM basis.

The treatments were administered as follows:

Control: Basal diet as outlined above
Treatment: Boveta optimized diet

The amino acid profile of the optimized diet was adjusted by partially replacing dry gluten feed with AminoMax, a bypass canola meal manufactured by Afgritech, and by adding encapsulated lysine (AminoSure L from Balchem Corporation). A comparison of the diets using the Boveta model is presented in Table 1. The adjusted diet was formulated to maximize the potential biological and economic response to adjusted amino acid:ME ratios without attempting to optimize amino acid density or ratios to 100% of theoretical requirements. See Tables 2 and 3.

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 daily, and the actual dry matter intake is presented in Table 4.

Data Collection and Analysis

Animals and Performance: The number of animals in each group and pen milk production were reported daily to correlate with the pen mean for daily DMI. According to the breeding needs of the farm, animals were rotated in and out of the test groups weekly (~10-15 cows/group/week). Each week the new cows were allotted to match the animals leaving as closely as possible. The net effect of this on the test was very small as there was an addition of only 11 cows during the test period and removal of ~25 cows.

Feed Amounts: The TMR were mixed and delivered with a Kuhn-Knight, vertical Maxx VT 180 feed mixer. Feed DM was monitored daily and adjustments in amounts of feed offered made accordingly. Feed offered and estimated consumption (offered-refused) was recorded daily with the TMR Tracker program.

Feed Samples: Feed samples were collected weekly and dry matter 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. Samples of the final ration were collected weekly and a composite sample was analyzed by Rock River Lab for nutrient content.

Milk Yield and Composition: Individual milk weights were recorded by pen at each milking for all animals. Milk samples were collected from two consecutive milkings on days -21, 0, 28 and 42. Milk protein, fat, lactose, somatic cell counts, and milk urea nitrogen were determined by DHIA Laboratory Services (DHIA Labs). See Tables 5 and 5a.

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 Day 0 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. See Table 6.

Discussion and Conclusions

    1. Under conditions of no heat stress (first 21 days), cows produced more milk regardless of diet. The raw data shows that the treatment cattle produced 7-10 pounds more milk per cow per day than the controls in this period. See Tables 5 and 5a.
    2. Heat stress occurred during period 2 (day 22-42) and this negatively affected milk production by all the cows. However, cows fed the optimized diet exhibited better performance compared with cows fed the control diet. In this period the raw data shows the treatment cows making 4-5 pounds more milk per day than the controls. See Tables 5 and 5a.
    3. Feeding the optimized diet improved milk production, milk protein %, milk protein yield, lactose %, non-fat solids % and somatic cell counts for the entire test. Statistical analysis provides that milk yield increased by 3.9 lb/day or 4% over the entire test period when the optimized diet was fed. Yield of energy corrected milk increased by 4.4 lb/cow/day and efficiency of production (ECM/DMI) was increased by 3.8% when the optimized diet was fed. See Table 6.
    4. Pen feed intake was slightly increased when the optimized diet was fed, but the increase was minor compared with the increase observed for milk yield. Yields of milk fat and protein were 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 .11 lb/cow/day and protein yield was increased by .21 lb/day. Milk solids yield also was increased .32 lb/day. See Table 6.
    5. Income over feed cost was improved by feeding the optimized diet. An economic evaluation was completed using the average of the production and milk component data collected on the two DHIA test days (Day 21 and Day 42). The calculated net benefit per cow was $1.05/cow/day. Although feed costs were estimated to be $0.53/cow/day higher when the optimized diet was fed, milk value increased by $1.58/cow/day ($20.07 vs. $18.49), largely because of the increase in milk protein yield when the optimized diet was fed. See Table 7.
Table 1. Diet composition
Table 2. Estimated metabolizable amino acid supply predicted for Control and Boveta-Optimized diet
Table 3. Analyzed composition of diets fed during study
Table 4. Feed Intake DM/cow/day
Table 5. Milk production and components (DHIA)
Table 5a. Milk Production
Table 6. Performance by cows fed control and optimized diets
Chart 6a
Table 7. Economic Analysis Using Only June Milk Prices
*Average of the 2 DHIA days tested at day 21 and day 42.