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Dairy Focus: Make Better Use of Byproduct Feeds

J.W. Schroeder, NDSU Extension Service dairy specialist J.W. Schroeder, NDSU Extension Service dairy specialist
Comparison of a Dairy Diet Optimized for Prevailing Feed Prices Comparison of a Dairy Diet Optimized for Prevailing Feed Prices
Byproducts can work in dairy rations, an NDSU dairy expert says.

By J.W. Schroeder, Dairy Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

Editor’s note: This is the third article in a series on how dairy producers can lower feed costs.

The previous article in this series discussed methods available for comparing feedstuffs for relative value.

Depending on cost, byproducts from the grain-processing industry can have an economic advantage in your dairy rations. The following is information adapted from “Economics of Making Nutritional Decisions with Volatile Feed Prices,” an article Normand St-Pierre of Ohio State University and Joanna Knapp of Fox Hollow Consulting presented at the High Plains Dairy Conference in Albuquerque, N.M., this spring,

Strategically, one should benefit from maximizing the use of feeds deemed bargains. As an example of how this can be accomplished, the authors balanced a ration for a 1,400-pound Holstein cow producing 80 pounds of milk per day with 3.7 percent milk fat and 3 percent milk protein using prevailing prices during the summer of 2004.

In doing so, they did not use a least-cost programming algorithm, but used ingredients that traditionally have formed the basis of a traditional Midwestern dairy cattle diet. They then modified the selection of ingredients to reflect the market conditions in January 2008.

In doing so, they reduced the amount of corn fed by 25 percent and whole cottonseed by 50 percent; eliminated wet brewers grains, 44 percent solvent-extracted soybean meal and tallow; and incorporated some dried distillers grains with solubles, corn hominy, corn gluten feed and wheat middlings.

The resulting diet is nutritionally nearly identical to the traditional Midwest dairy diet. Its cost, however, is 0.25 percent per cow per day less, resulting in an estimated savings in feed costs of more than $80 per lactation.

Although byproducts are nutritionally much more variable than grains and oilseed meals (Dairy National Research Council, 2001), their contribution to the nutritional variance of the whole diet is approximately proportional to the square of their inclusion rates, according to St-Pierre.

This doesn’t account for handling costs associated with byproducts, but inherent feed variability may not be as much of a factor as you would think. Because the 2008 diet used relatively small amounts of each of the byproducts, the resulting diet in fact has a lower expected nutritional variance for all major nutrients than when compared with the traditional diet.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:J.W. Schroeder, (701) 231-7663,
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391,
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