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Improving Longevity In Your Dairy Herd

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By Teresa Marker, B.S.

Healthy cows tend to stay in the herd longer.  Currently, in the United States, the average productive lifetime for a dairy cow is 2.5 lactations. A cow does not mature until five years of age.  Many cows are involuntarily lost during the first two months of lactation. The majority of these animals are removed from the herd due to poor transitions, lameness, mastitis and reproductive issues. There are several ways to improve longevity of a dairy herd which will ultimately lead to improved milk production and profitability for the dairy farm. Strategies to improve longevity on the dairy farm include: cull based on parity, bring in less heifers every year, improve the transition into lactation, focus on colostrum management, feed quality forage, and provide proper nutrition for all groups.

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Straw The Counterproductive Ingredient In Dry Cow Rations

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By Erik Brettingen, B.S.

The Dry Cow Diet

The dry cow diet is arguably the most important ration on the dairy farm; setting the stage for a successful lactation. Cows that freshen with metabolic problems of ketosis, milk fever or a displaced abomasum cost time and money to treat; often preventing the cow from reaching her full potential for that lactation. The goal of the dry cow diet is to limit these metabolic issues and support optimal health and rumen function going into lactation. Dry cow diets should be balanced with the following guidelines in mind:

  1. Maximize dry matter intake.
  2. Keep the DCAD low and minimize the risk of milk fever by providing the cow with feedstuffs low in calcium, potassium and other cations.
  3. Balance the ration for moderate energy levels (0.65 to 0.67 Mcal/lb. Nel) to maintain a stable body condition and limit the risk of subclinical ketosis from weight gain.
  4. Deliver crude protein levels of 12.5% to 13.5% to support fetal growth and milk production during lactation.
  5. Provide adequate and balanced levels of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin E and selenium for mammary recovery and development.

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Ask The Vet / Ask The Nutritionist

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“I would like to test some feed stuffs with Dairyland Labs.  Which test package do you recommend?”

-Wondering in Wisconsin-

Crystal Creek® recommends the Select Package. The Select Package (listed as N7 NIR Select on the Dairyland Labs Submission form) is recommended over the Basic Package because its analysis offers an evaluation of ash, TDN and NE values, where the Basic Package does not. Crystal Creek® considers these values essential for balancing a ration.

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Interpreting Key Values Of A Forage Test

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By Alex Austin, B.S.

Forage testing gives great insight into the quality and value of feedstuffs. Testing allows for a better understanding of the forage value, whether feeding it out or looking to sell. Understanding key feed test values can give a producer insight on how their current agronomy, harvesting and storage management plan is working.

 

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Electrolyte Use

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By Kelly Hubert, B.S.

Electrolytes are an important tool to use when supporting scouring and dehydrated calves. Scours are the leading cause of death in young calves, primarily because scours cause calves to rapidly dehydrate. It is important to monitor calves daily and treat them quickly when needed.  A calf needs to receive 10% of its body weight in fluids each day for maintenance, while a growing calf will require even more1. Scouring calves need the calories from milk feedings as well as the extra fluids and nutrition that electrolytes provide. Electrolytes should be fed between the normal milk feedings. Mixing milk and electrolytes together interferes with the clotting mechanism of the milk and is not recommended1. It is best to start with a higher feeding rate of electrolytes and reduce it as the calf’s condition improves. If a calf is not drinking on its own, the use of an esophageal feeder may be required.

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Spring Pasture: A Great Asset

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By Erik Brettingen, B.S.

The spring flush of pasture is a great resource for producer profitability, animal health, and productivity. While pasture can provide a great deal of opportunity as an economical feed source, it is important to ensure the proper management of this resource. Waiting until the forage is adequately established before allowing grazing and keeping up with the fast growing flush, is critical to maintaining pasture health. Taking steps to prevent common pasture diseases like bloat and grass tetany will allow grazing animals to thrive on the new spring grass.

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Improving Reproduction In Your Dairy Herd

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By Kelly Hubert, B.S.

Reproduction plays a crucial role in the profitability and sustainability of a dairy farm. Finding ways to improve the reproduction of a herd can be challenging because there are many variables that can affect a cow’s ability to get pregnant. The waiting period before first service, ability to accurately detect heats, cow comfort, nutrition and the presence of mycotoxins in the feed are all factors that need to be evaluated when looking to improve the reproductive performance of your dairy herd.

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Forage Sampling

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By Alex Austin, B.S.

It is important to sample forages before adding them to a livestock diet. Sampling allows producers to have a balanced ration for their livestock and test for mycotoxins. It also gives farmers a snapshot into their agronomy, harvesting and storage practices. The results of a forage sample will only be as good as the technique and effort that went in to obtaining it.

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Can Calf Barns Really Have Too Much Fresh Air In The Winter?

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By Ryan Leiterman, D.V.M.

Cold temperatures are here and winter is quickly approaching. As the temperatures drop, calf barns are closed up and the ventilation rates are turned down. As an industry we do this reflexively, but is it what’s best for the calves?

Studies show that pre-weaned calves raised in hutches have lower pneumonia rates when compared to calves raised in barns. Even calves raised in calf barns equipped with modern ventilation systems can experience increased respiratory disease rates when compared to their hutch-raised counterparts.

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Anti-Nutritional Trends And Thoughts With 2017 Feeds Across The Midwest

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By  Dr. John Goeser, Phd, PAS & Dipl. ACAN-Rock River Laboratory, Inc.

Contributing Editor

Historically, mold, yeast and mycotoxins are thought of as the primary contaminants in feed that rob high performing dairy cattle of health and nutrition. More recently, stress and pathogenic bacteria have been better recognized as contributing factors that interact with fungal and mycotoxin contaminants. See Figure 1.

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