Dairy Nutrition Trends

Dairy farmers are trying to find ways to cut costs in these times of low milk prices. That includes removing the most expensive or questionable ingredients in the cows’ diet in terms of economical return.

Tim Brown is the director of technical support for the soy division of Landus Cooperative. He says for a long time, the protein requirements of dry cows –those that are pregnant but not producing milk – has been ignored. But Brown says that way of thinking is changing.

"Research is coming out that’s suggesting that these cows, which happen to be in the last stages of gestation, really do have a high requirement for high-quality protein in the diet," he says. "And so, scientists are in the process of quantifying just how much metabolizable protein these pregnant, dry cows actually need, and what effect a deficiency of that metabolizable protein might have on their subsequent lactation."

Brown says it’s not uncommon for a cow to go into a calcium deficiency state after calving. There is renewed interest in a cation-anion balancing procedure for dry cow diets, to help prevent hypocalcemia.

"It’s been in practice for perhaps 30-years, but its acceptance by the industry hasn’t been as great as the scientific results would suggest it should be," he says. "There are tremendous benefits from doing this, it’s really a nice preventative nutritional balancing procedure that makes the cow healthier at the beginning of lactation and on throughout lactation."

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