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Working With Mother Nature…Heifer Maturity Matters

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By Dan Leiterman

Not every seemingly good idea spawned with good intentions by dedicated professionals turns out to be an effective, practical solution. The case in point discussed here; What is the proper age for a dairy heifer to freshen at? Research presented at the 4-State Nutrition Conference this year, and reviewed in this article, shows that the industry’s efforts to freshen dairy heifers at 22 months of age vs. 24 months of age are detrimental to the lifetime productivity of the cow and to the farmer’s profitability.

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Dry Cow Nutrition and Management: The Key to Quality Colostrum

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By Erik Brettingen, B.S.

Colostrum is one of the most important factors in raising healthy calves. Besides assuring a healthy start to the calf’s life, colostrum is known to have positive effects that increase a calf’s potential as a 1st lactation heifer. Colostrum is commonly credited for providing antibodies like immunoglobulin G (IgG), but it also supplies hormones, white blood cells and calories. With colostrum being such a vital component of calf health, it is of paramount importance that cows produce adequate volumes of high-quality colostrum. Dry cow vaccination protocols, management practices, and most importantly, dry cow nutrition, all have far-reaching influences on colostrum production and colostrum quality. Guidelines for measuring colostrum quality can be found in the calf section of Crystal Creek’s annual product catalog.

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RFV Does Not Love You Back

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By Erik Brettingen, B.S.

Relative Feed Value (RFV) has been used as a method to quickly evaluate forages and make assumptions of animal performance when that forage is fed. Generally, the thought is that the higher the number the better. While there can be some truth to this at times, RFV misses out on arguably the most important piece to the puzzle when feeding forage to cows; neutral detergent fiber digestibility (NDFD). Crystal Creek® focuses on maximizing energy corrected milk with forage by utilizing farm grown feeds in the diet. To do this, we need to dig much deeper when evaluating forages and providing the best rations for rumen health and profitable production. Other tools like Relative Forage Quality (RFQ), and better yet, the NDF digestibility, really help pin down how to maximize forage in the ration and maintain productive cows.

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Non-Nutrient Factors That Impact Dairy Diet Performance

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By Erik Brettingen, B.S.

When looking for the next pound of milk, most time is spent evaluating what could be changed in the ration. This often leads to discussions based on individual feedstuffs and ingredients. Dairy cow performance starts with a properly balanced diet, but sometimes the biggest opportunities are unrelated to the nutrient values in the feed. The environment in which a cow spends most of its day, how its feed is delivered, and the management of the cow’s time, all play a role in performance.

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The Elegance and Wisdom of Simplicity: As Applied to Dairy Ruminant Nutrition (Part 2)

Click here to view as a pdf:  The Elegance and Wisdom of Simplicity Part II

By Dan Leiterman

Preface: This is the second part of a two-part article addressing my thoughts about common sense strategies for dairy nutrition.  The first article can be found at:  https://crystalcreeknatural.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/The-Elegance-And-Wisdom-Of-Simplicity.pdf   

The Important Role of Simplicity

In part 1 of this article (published in the April 2021 Crystal Creek® Newsletter), I talked about the important role of simplicity and how complex science needs to adhere to simple, basic and sound principles so information can be easily and efficiently applied with balance. If the concept of simplicity is not paramount, it is easy to lose perspective and forget what we have learned through decades of feeding animals. Simplicity also helps us deal with the overwhelming sea of data. Information that is consistent with simple principles will advance a cohesive and efficient strategy that helps us reach a sustainable goal.

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Using Data Collection Devices to Evaluate Progress in Your Dairy Herd

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By Ryan Leiterman, D.V.M.

Director of Technical Services

Dairy producers have been given a new tool to help track a herd’s overall health, fertility and production with activity monitoring systems. These systems provide data that can be measured over a period of time. Crystal Creek® has worked with several herds that utilize these activity monitoring systems and have found them to be an invaluable means of collecting data for making decisions impacting the herd. Nutritionists can collect and organize data from the system on a regular basis. The effects of changes in feeding strategies or procedural changes can easily be tracked by these monitoring systems. A nutritionist can conduct business meetings with the dairy producer and other team members, (veterinarians, breeders, bankers, agronomists, etc.) to review the data collected throughout the year and create goals for the future.

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The Skin: The Window to the Immune System

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Dr. Ryan Leiterman

Dr. Ryan Leiterman holds degrees in both Agricultural Engineering and Veterinary Medicine.

By Ryan Leiterman, D.V.M.

Director of Technical Services

The skin is the frontline defense mechanism for every animal and as a result, it is under constant challenges from toxins, infectious agents and physical stresses. It’s more than just a physical barrier between the body and the environment; the skin is an active immune organ. Specialized immune cells found only in the skin are always on the lookout, patrolling for infection.

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The Elegance and Wisdom of Simplicity: As Applied to Dairy Ruminant Nutrition

Click here to view as a pdf:  The Elegance And Wisdom Of Simplicity

By Dan Leiterman

Preface: This is the first part of a two-part article addressing my thoughts about common sense strategies for dairy nutrition.

Throughout the ages and in all walks of life, mankind has demonstrated a relentless and instinctive desire to learn, to explore and to discover answers for the many complex mysteries of life and science. The quest for knowledge is essential to our success as a species. However, managing the new knowledge and applying it to our benefit is an ever-increasing challenge. During our journey to learn as much as we can, it is important to remember the role of simplicity as an essential tool to help us manage the overwhelming amount of information we are exposed to every day. No matter how complex the topic, it must adhere to simple, basic and sound principles so information can be applied easily and efficiently with balance. If simplicity is not taken into account, it is too easy to lose perspective on the task at hand, forget the lessons of history, and become lost in a sea of data. Information that is consistent with simple principles will advance a cohesive, wise and efficient strategy that helps us to reach a sustainable goal. Keeping a solid tie to simplicity can provide clarity and help us stay on course in the growing complexity of our world.

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How to Effectively Manage High Somatic Cell Counts

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By Teresa Marker, B.S.

Herd-wide high somatic cell count (HSCC) issues can negatively impact both milk quality and overall farm profitability. A recent study estimated that the cost of subclinical mastitis to the U.S. dairy industry exceeds $1 billion annually. The overall production loss for the average U.S. dairy farm was estimated at $110/cow annually. This loss can be attributed to discarded milk, treatment costs, extra labor costs, milk production losses, culling and death loss. The following article will outline what steps are needed to determine the cause of a high somatic cell count, how to interpret diagnostic test results and how to create a plan to help reduce the overall herd somatic cell count.

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The Recovery Period: Tips For A Successful Dry Off

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By Erik Brettingen, B.S.

The dry cow period is arguably the most important time in the cow’s lactation cycle as it is the time in which the cow rests her body and prepares for the next lactation. The timing and way in which a cow is dried off can greatly impact how well she will transition into the dry period and how well she will come into her next lactation. A properly managed dry off protocol should minimize the risk of mastitis, maximize cow comfort and allow for mammary tissue rest and recovery in preparation for the next lactation.

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