Buckeye Dairy News: Volume 9 Issue 3

  1. Dairy Policy and Market Watch

    Dr. Cameron Thraen, Milk Marketing Specialist, The Ohio State University 

    No group watches the dairy markets more closely than the good folks at the USDA Dairy Market News.  Here is a synopsis of what they have to say about the current conditions in the dairy markets, domestic and international.  Visit my OhioDairyWeb for up-to-date price, futures/options and price forecast information.

    OhioDairyWeb 2007 can be found at http://aede.osu.edu/programs/ohiodairy.

    Domestic Markets

    Butter: Butter markets across the country are generally firm.  Domestic demand is seasonally fair with international buyer interest building. Domestic butter demand is fair at best.  Stocks of butter in Europe are short and production is winding down seasonally. It would seem that the demand is there to buy more U.S. butter if pricing pencils out.

    Cheese: The cheese market is firm, with blocks and natural varieties generally stronger than barrels.   High cheese prices kept many buyers delaying purchases and high milk prices kept cheese makers from making uncommitted loads of cheese. Cheese production is down between competition from butter/powder, increased milk demand by bottlers for school accounts, steady to lower milk receipts, and low cheese yields.

    Fluid milk: Milk production throughout the US is generally steady.  Hot temperatures in the West and Southeast are very slowly deterring output in these regions.  Manufacturing milk demand exceeds supply at some locations in the Midwest.  A large number of loads of milk have been shipped into Florida and the Southeast for fluid use, totaling 1152 truckloads in just the past 2 weeks.

    Dry products: Prices are trending steady to higher on buttermilk and non-fat dry milk, but whey-related product prices are lower.

    US commercial disappearance: Commercial disappearance of dairy products during April through June of 2007 totaled 46.6 billion pounds, 1.8% above the same period in 2006.

    International Dairy Market News 

    Western and Eastern Europe: Milk production is declining slowly in most areas with a noticeable decline in the hot and dry areas. Even in the favorable production regions, production continues to trail market opportunities. Demand for milk for both drinking and manufacturing needs is tight and very competitive. Competition for milk, especially at this time of the season, is strong. Demand for milk powders remains strong. Skim milk powder markets are firm, with prices holding steady. Traders and handlers state that prices are holding steady due to lack of supply. Milk production is declining seasonally and milk volumes remain competitive as they have for much of the current season.

    Oceania: In Australia, the new milk production season has not resumed to any noticeable extent. Winter moisture amounts have been good, although still below needed volumes and desired surplus levels. Annual milk production figures for the 2006 - 2007 season were recently released which indicated that output for the year trailed last season by 5.1%. Skim milk powder markets remain firm, although prices are fluctuating. The milk production season in Oceania is just getting underway and when possible, milk is being directed toward milk powders versus other manufactured products.

  2. Cost of Nutrients and Benchmarks of Profitability for Ohio Dairy Farms

    Dr. Normand St-Pierre, Dairy Management Specialist, The Ohio State University. 

    What will be the average US corn yield this year?  Is China buying corn?  Can Brazil compensate for the US acreage reduction in soybeans?  These are just a few among many questions whose answers will affect the US grains and oilseeds markets in the next year.  Because of the uncertainty, be prepared for very volatile markets.  Feed prices can change very quickly.  What was a bargain feedstuff one month may be overpriced the next month.

    At the time of this writing (early September 2007), most feedstuffs were expensive from a historical perspective.  Some, however, were inexpensive relative to other feeds.  As usual, SESAMETM (available at www.sesamesoft.com) was used to estimate implicit prices of nutrients from market prices of 29 commodities available in central Ohio (Table 1).  Net energy lactation is still at a very high price, approaching $0.14/Mcal compared to a 10-year average of about $0.07/Mcal.  Rumen degradable protein is currently very inexpensive, whereas digestible rumen undegradable protein is priced about at the average long-term price.  Non-effective neutral detergent fiber (NDF) is cheap (markets are discounting this nutrient), whereas effective NDF is priced at the upper end of its historical trends.  In short, dietary energy is currently very expensive and should impact the diet formulation strategy used by field nutritionists.

    Table 1. Prices of nutrients, central Ohio.

    Nutrient name
    May 2006
    July 2007
    September 2007
    Net energy for lactation - 3X (NRC, 2001; $/Mcal)
    Rumen degradable protein ($/lb)
    Digestible-rumen undegradable protein ($/lb)
    Non-effective neutral detergent fiber (NDF; $/lb)
    Effective-NDF ($/lb)

    In Tables 2 and 3, we report the results for 27 feed commodities traded in central Ohio.  Although corn price is high from a historical perspective, corn is currently a bargain compared to other feedstuffs in the market.  The price of many feeds has risen in sympathy with corn, but many, such as tallow, have overshot their economic values. 
    Using nutrient prices and milk component prices, we can calculate a benchmark for feed costs and income over nutrient costs. 

    Table 2. Grouping of feed commodities, central Ohio, November 2006.

    At Breakeven
    Corn grain Alfalfa hay - 44% NDF Beet pulp
    Corn silage Bakery byproduct Brewers grains
    Distillers dried grains Canola meal Citrus pulp
    Feather meal Cottonseed meal Gluten meal
    Gluten feed Whole cottonseed Meat meal
    Hominy Molasses Soybean hulls
    Expeller soybean meal Tallow 44% Soybean meal

    Roasted soybeans

    Wheat bran 48% Soybean meal
    Wheat middlings    

    Table 3. Commodity assessment, central Ohio, July 2007.

    Actual ($/ton)
    Predicted ($/ton)
    Lower limit ($/ton)
    Upper limit ($/ton)
    Alfalfa Hay, 44% NDF, 20% CP
    Bakery Byproduct Meal
    Beet Sugar Pulp, dried
    Brewers Grains, wet
    Canola Meal, mech. extracted
    Citrus Pulp, dried
    Corn Grain, ground dry
    Corn Silage, 32 to 38% DM
    Cottonseed Meal, 41% CP
    Cottonseed, whole w lint
    Distillers Dried Grains, w solubles
    Feather Hydrolyzed Meal
    Gluten Feed, dry
    Gluten Meal, dry
    Meat Meal, rendered
    Molasses, sugarcane
    Soybean Hulls
    Soybean Meal, expellers
    Soybean Meal, solvent 44% CP
    Soybean Meal, solvent 48% CP
    Soybean Seeds, whole roasted
    Wheat Bran
    Wheat Middlings

    Appraisal Set
    Actual ($/ton)
    Predicted ($/ton)
    Corrected ($/ton)
    Alfalfa Hay - 38% NDF, 22% CP
    Alfalfa Hay - 48% NDF, 17% CP
    Blood meal, ring dried
    Fish Menhaden Meal, mech.

    Results are presented in Table 4.  The costs of feeding for a milk yield of 75 lb/day at 3.6% fat and 3.1% protein has gone up $1.32/cow per day since May 2006.  This translates to an increase in feed costs of $1.76/cwt during the same period.  Current milk prices, however, generate additional gross income over feed cost of $5.59/cow per day when comparing May 2006 to September 2007.  At $10.41/cow per day, the current income over feed cost is substantially greater than the average of $6.25 to 6.50/cow per day that we have experienced over the last five years.  Clearly, dairy production is currently very profitable, which compensates for the disastrous year that dairy producers went through in 2006.

    Table 4. Nutrient costs and income over nutrient costs, central Ohio.1

    May 2006
    July 2007
    September 2007
    ------------------------------ $/cow/day --------------------------------
    Nutrient costs2











    Vitamins and minerals



    Milk gross income





    Other solids



    Income over nutrient costs

    1Costs and income for a 1400 lb cow producing 75 lb/day of milk, with 3.6% fat, 3.1% protein, and 5.9% other solids. Component prices are for Federal Order 33, October 2006.
    2NEL = Net energy for lactation, RDP = rumen degradable protein, RUP = rumen undegradable protein, ne-NDF = noneffective neutral detergent fiber, and e-NDF = effective neutral effective fiber.

  3. Johne's Disease Testing Options: What has Changed?

    Dr. William P. Shulaw, Extension Veterinarian, The Ohio State University 

    Producers in Ohio have enjoyed a very high level of support for Johne's disease testing for many years.  Although warning signs that this could change have been visible for the past two to three years, the changes that came about in March of this year were a surprise to some producers and veterinarians.  What changed?

    Actually, not all that much.  Ohio still has a Johne's program that mirrors the federal guidelines of the Voluntary Bovine Johne's Control Program.  Veterinarians still administer risk assessments and help producers develop management plans, much as they have in recent years, and Ohio still has one of the best-equipped and best-staffed diagnostic laboratories for Johne's disease in the USA.  And Johne's disease is still costing the Ohio cattle industry enormous amounts of money in lost milk production and premature culling of animals.  The only real difference, admittedly a very important one, is that the Ohio Department of Agriculture has been required to begin charging substantial fees for fecal cultures and ELISA blood tests.  And the timing couldn't have been much worse.  Why?

    For the past several years, the same issues that have affected the budgets of other state agencies have steadily eroded the state-supported budgets for our veterinary diagnostic laboratory and Animal Industry Division personnel.  At the same time, costs for materials and supplies to perform diagnostic tests have steadily risen.  In addition, other diseases, such as avian influenza, chronic wasting disease, and viral hemorrhagic septicemia in Great Lakes fish have absorbed increasing amounts of dollars and personnel time.  Johne's disease control and assistance to farmers has been a high priority for this State, and until recently, federal contract monies have offset much of the cost of testing and allowed Ohio to keep testing for Johne's disease free.  This was possible because of Ohio's nationally recognized leadership in Johne's disease control efforts and the volume of diagnostic testing conducted in Ohio.

    At the federal level, from a Congressional support level of about $18 million in 2002 for assistance in controlling Johne's disease, monies available to the states have fallen dramatically.  Ohio's share of federal support monies has fallen from $910,000 to just over $200,000 this year which is being used to maintain the Test Negative Status Herd Program.  The timing of this reduction is unfortunate in that many producers in Ohio have just begun to realize the seriousness of this disease in their herds, at least in large part because of the efforts of practicing veterinarians in helping them to assess their risks and to develop a sound management strategy.  The good news in all this is that Ohio still received proportionally more money this year than most other states, but the bad news is that combined with weak state support, this amount is no longer sufficient to maintain all the free testing we have enjoyed in the past.  Currently, culture for the causative organism of Johne's disease, Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis or MAP, costs $25.50 per sample and ELISA on blood samples is $4.50 per sample.  Because these are real testing costs, excluding labor, producers can get some idea of ODA's historical commitment to Johne's disease control. 

    Lack of State and federal dollars does not change the need to manage Johne's disease effectively to prevent continued financial losses and spread of the disease.  If your only approach to Johne's disease control was a "test and cull-the-positives" approach, you may not have seen much apparent improvement in your situation, especially in the past couple of years when culture methods in use at the laboratory became more sensitive in finding infected animals.  Culling infected animals, especially heavy shedders, can be very helpful in reducing the overall burden of MAP on the farm.  But, if adequate steps aren't taken to effectively prevent transmission to calves and heifers, progress will be likely be very slow or absent. 

    Environmental sampling in this State, and others, has shown that even when the prevalence of infected animals in the herd drops below 10%, it is not difficult to find MAP in the cow environment and on the udder.  These recent findings underscore the importance of developing a management plan that reduces the potential for a young calf to ingest MAP.  In one of the herds enrolled in our Johne's Demonstration Herd Project, this was done by prompt removal of the calf and allowing someone else to raise the heifers at a completely different, but clean, site.  In another of these Demonstration Herds, a beef herd, the producer made the decision not keep his own replacement heifers at all until he could get the prevalence of MAP-infected cows in his herd to zero.  This necessitated buying a few heifers from herds in the Test Negative Program to maintain herd numbers, but because beef herds don't usually have the luxury of removing calves right after birth, this may be the most important element of his control program.  This herd has gone from a 10% infection level in 2003 to zero for the past two years.

    The maternity area is the place most calves are likely to get their first exposure to MAP.  The sooner they can be removed to a clean place, the less the risk of them ingesting it and becoming infected.  Likewise, the greater the environmental burden of MAP in the maternity area, the more likely the calf is to get an infectious dose before it is removed from the cow.  Some veterinarians are now using environmental sampling of the maternity area as a kind of "report card" for overall hygiene and the risk to the calf.  These samples of bedding can be taken at periodic intervals, perhaps quarterly, to assess overall contamination and the need to improve hygiene of that area.  Research has shown that the udder, belly, feet, and legs of cows can be heavily contaminated with MAP and that the dry cow area may be a source of contamination for the maternity area, even if a cow about to calve is placed in a freshly cleaned and bedded calving stall.  The dry cow area can also be sampled to assess this risk.  Work we have done so far suggests that five samples for culture can give a producer and the practitioner a glimpse of the level of contamination of maternity or dry cow areas and the need for corrective action.

    Quite a few states, including Ohio, have investigated the possibility of using pooled fecal samples for culture to: 1) determine whether MAP is present on the farm, and 2) estimate the prevalence of MAP infection in the herd.  Although culturing pooled fecal samples from five cows at a time can reliably determine if MAP is in the herd, sampling the environment is less costly and probably just as efficient for that purpose in dairy herds.  In fact, environmental samples can now be used by dairy herds for entry into our Test Negative Status Program at level one. 

    Pooling of fecal samples will not likely be useful to producers who already know they have a serious problem with Johne's disease; however, this approach can be useful to assess strings of cows in large dairy herds, and it can be useful in estimating the overall prevalence of infection in some herds that do not already have an idea of the prevalence or which have just found out they have an infected cow.  Currently, samples can be collected by producers and sent to the laboratory, through their herd veterinarian, for pooling and culture.  This may be attractive for owners of small beef herds where the cows are not handled frequently.  Pooled sample results can be used to determine which groups of five animals may have "heavy" MAP shedders.  Further testing can identify these animals for culling or segregation.  Pooling could also be used to assess infection in groups of purchased animals.  Pooling in groups of five substantially reduces the cost of testing and can provide valuable information to the herd owner. 

    We are currently assessing the usefulness of culturing heifers to see if it is possible to identify MAP-infected animals at a younger age and redirect them to options other than the milking herd.  In addition, Ohio and other states are currently evaluating some additional approaches to individual animal tests that may be more sensitive than ELISA and less costly than culture.  However, in the short term, producers can still use testing strategies that will help them manage this disease.  They don't have to be costly.  Consult with your veterinarian for options that may be useful in your herd.

  4. Grain Marketing for Buyers

    Dr. Matthew Roberts, Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics, The Ohio State University

    Corn yield is currently forecast at 152.8 bu/ac nationwide. This is somewhat higher than the midpoint of estimates leading up to the report, and it has caused the corn market to extend the losses that started with the June report. With the 152.8 bu/ac yield, and 85.4 million acres harvested, a 13.05 billion bushel harvest is forecast. For Ohio, the forecast is for a 143 bu/ac yield this year, 16 bu/ac less than 2006.

    The increased projected yield led to increases in usage, as well. Forecasted feed demand for the 07/08 marketing year was increased by 50 million bushels, and owing to higher availability and lower global production, exports were forecasted to rise by 150 million bushels over the previous estimate, to 2.15 billion bushels, compared to 2.1 billion bushels for the 06/07 marketing year. The expected increase in US exports is being driven primarily by the severe drought in Southeastern Europe, which has reduced expected European Union-27and Former Soviet Union coarse grain production by almost 7 million metric tons.

    As long as August moisture is sufficient, all indications are that the domestic soybean harvest will be adequate this fall. However, the US, and the globe, cannot plan for another 300 million bushel decline of soybean inventories. New crop 2008 soybean futures are already displaying the markets' unease with '08 prospects. November 2008 soybean futures are currently trading at $9.05/bu and December 2008 corn contracts are trading at $4.01/bu, a 2.25:1 soy-to-corn ratio. In January/February of this year, new crop corn averaged $4.08 and soybeans averaged $7.96, for a ratio of under 2:1, which led to a loss of 11.4 million acres of soybeans and a gain of 14.6 million acres of corn. Many analysts are already predicting that corn will lose up to 2 million acres in '08. I think corn's willingness to do so is entirely contingent on the level of '07/08 ending stocks. If we do have an '07 yield near 150 bu/ac, then corn may cede a few acres.

    Another major contributor to the acreage allocation discussion is the number of acres planted to soybeans this fall in South America. While soybean prices have rallied this summer, the fall in the US Dollar has offset some of those gains. At this point, it appears that South American plantings will rise 5% or less over last year, which is unlikely to significantly alter the balance of the global soybean market.

    For at least the next year, the market will remain very tight, and much more attention than usual will be paid to deferred futures contract prices, such as harvest '08 and '09. From a marketing standpoint, I expect that this attention will be very clearly felt soon after harvest this year when attention turns to '08 harvest. Because no crops will have ample inventories by the end of the 07/08 marketing year, prices for '08 harvest will stay strong, which should create a "floor" for the 2007 crop prices, but the large number of bushels being harvested and stored this fall will nonetheless create heavy pressure on cash prices.

    Therefore, feed buying opportunities will be best in November and December, when storage pressure will be highest. But by mid-January at the latest, the market will likely start the process of allocating acres for '08 plantings, a process that will probably see corn futures running up to $4.15/bu and soybeans to $9.50/bu After the March 31 report, all prices, but especially soybeans, should see price declines lasting into June, when weather worries begin.

  5. Controlling Feed Costs for Dairy Cattle

    Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Extension Dairy Specialist, and Dr. Bill Weiss, Dairy Nutrition Specialist, The Ohio State University

    Feed costs account for the greatest portion of the variable costs of producing milk. The increase in corn prices driven by ethanol production, the subsequent rise in other commodity prices, limited supply of forage in many areas of the State due to growing conditions, and the increased cost (especially fuel costs) of growing feedstuffs have substantially increased the cost of feeding dairy cattle during recent months, and this situation will not change anytime soon. The following of corn prices by other commodities has been stronger than expected, including the price of distillers grains, and the slower than projected construction of ethanol plants has not yet resulted in an imbalance of supply and demand for distillers grains. Due to these economic forces, the cost of feeding dairy cattle has increased 5 to 30%. While this can strip away profitability when milk prices are high, it can quickly place a farm in financial hardship when milk prices are moderate to low.

    There are different ways of assessing feed costs, and these methods are addressed in this article for lactating cows only. Feed costs usually range from $0.06 to 0.08/lb of dietary dry matter (DM), and thus the cost per cow per day will then depend on DM intake. To relate the feed cost to milk yield, we calculate feed costs per hundredweight of milk, which generally should be < $4.50/cwt. However, the value of the milk will depend on its protein and fat composition (plus some quality indicators). Therefore, we stress the importance of monitoring income over feed costs (IOFC). The goal for IOFC is to be at least > $6.00/cow/day. Feed efficiency on dairy farms affects IOFC. One common method to calculate feed efficiency is: 3.5% fat-corrected milk (FCM, lb) / DM intake (lb) and 3.5% FCM (lb) = 0.432 x lb milk) + (16.23 x lb milk fat). The desired range for this feed efficiency is 1.4 to 1.6. Our goal is usually to increase DM intake, but if the intake increases without a response in milk yield, then some other positive response (for example, improved body condition) should be occurring or the increase in feed costs is not making an economic return.
    Using the scenarios presented in Table 1, some suggestions for controlling feed costs are provided.

    • Scenario A: At the onset, our greatest concern may be the increased cost of the ration, as illustrated by a 15% increase in feed costs resulting in $53/day less IOFC for 100 cows. Strategies to keep ration costs under control without affecting performance are: 1) working with the nutritionist to develop rations using less costly ingredients, including adjusting the portions of forage and concentrates as needed, 2) improve feeding management to reduce losses from storage and refusals (e.g. use good silo management to reduce spoilage, feed for 1 to 2% refusals and clean out refusals every other day and then feed to lower production group or heifers), and 3) contract for feed commodities to lock in favorable prices.
    • Scenario B: A 15% drop in milk price resulted in a $240 decrease in IOFC for 100 cows. Although our initial reaction may be "there is nothing I can do about this", on second thought, there are some things to consider: 1) Are milk fat and protein concentrations normal for the respective breed? If not, the feeding program may be causing these milk components to be too low, resulting in a loss of revenue. 2) Is the somatic cell count low? If not, you are loosing milk yield and may be either getting deducts per hundredweight or losing out on milk premiums.  3) Maybe you need to find a new buyer for your milk.
    • Scenario C: A 15% drop in feed efficiency (lower milk yield and higher feed intake which is a potential scenario with over feeding byproducts) resulted in a $181 loss in IOFC for a 100-cow herd, but the factors affecting the change in feed efficiency may be more under your control than the change in milk price in Scenario B. Housing, health, feeding, and DETAILS will need to be investigated for the cause of this change.
    • Scenario D: One strategy at times is to improve cash flow by reducing costs. Reducing feed costs in this scenario reflects that milk production will most likely decrease, resulting in a $188 drop in IOFC. Although there is less cash outflow for feed, there is a net loss in IOFC.  So, the message is that improving IOFC is not as simple as reducing the daily feed costs.

    Even with the high current feed costs, profits are still generally strong because of the high milk price; however, this is unlikely to continue and you should not become complacent.  As illustrated in the scenarios, the impact of higher feed costs is going to be severe at lower milk prices and when decreases in feed efficiency occur. As we look to the future (months) when milk prices are likely to fall and feed prices remain high, the impacts can be overwhelming (Scenario E = A + B), necessitating changes in management now to reduce price risks later and improve the present financial standing of an operation.

    Table 1. Comparisons of income over feed costs with changes in milk price, milk yield, dry matter intake, feed efficiency, and feed costs.

    Milk Yield
    Milk Income
    DM Intake
    Feed Efficiency
    (Milk/DMI, lb/lb)
    Feed Costs
    Feed Costs
    ($/cwt milk)


    Change in IOFC 100 cows ($/day)
    Baseline ($20/cwt milk, $0.07/lb DM)
    (A) 15% increase in feed costs ($0.0805/lb DM)
    (B) 15% decrease in milk price ($17/cwt)
    (C) 15% decrease in feed efficiency via lower milk and higher DM intake
    (D) 15% decrease in milk and DM intake
    (E) = A + B


  6. Guidelines for Feeding Low Forage Diets to Dairy Cows

    Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Dairy Specialist, The Ohio State University 

    Variation in forage quality, limited supply of forage, high prices for forage, and attempts to maximize milk yield are factors for why low forage diets are often fed to lactating cows. Certainly for this year, limited forage supply and high prices for forage (although prices for many other feeds are not going to be low) are conditions that exist. When considering the feeding of low forage diets, one must keep in mind that adequate effective fiber in the diet is critical for healthy, high producing dairy cows. Maintaining a stable rumen fermentation requires providing a minimum level of effective fiber and not exceeding a maximum level of nonfiber carbohydrates (NFC; e.g. starch). Forage NDF (FNDF) is a good indicator of effective fiber, but particle size of forage, source of NFC (e.g. corn vs. wheat), and fermentability of the NFC source (e.g., dry vs. high moisture corn) must be considered when formulating diets based on minimum FNDF. Low forage diets generally should not be fed to dairy cows during the first 30 days in milk because of the low dry matter (DM) intake at parturition and the risk of metabolic diseases. Intense feeding management is required when low forage diets are fed.

    Generally speaking, diets should contain a minimum of 26 to 28% NDF using traditional diets consisting of little or no high-fiber concentrate feeds. Assuming that 75% of the NDF should be forage, 21% FNDF would be needed in the ration; however, research has revealed that lower FNDF can be fed. Based on several experiments, here are some guidelines for limiting forage in diets:

    • Whole linted cottonseed (WCS) is the best concentrate source to use as a forage extender. Limit WCS to 5 to 6 lb/day per cow because of its unsaturated fat content. Dietary FNDF may be as low as 9 to 11% of DM when WCS is in the diet if dietary starch is limited to 25 to 30%. High fiber concentrate feeds, such as soybean hulls, distillers grains, brewers grains, wheat middlings, corn gluten feed, etc., can be used to limit the starch content in the ration.
    • If WCS is not in the ration, the FNDF content should be at least 16 to 18% of dietary DM when using the high-fiber concentrate feeds to limit starch to 25 to 30% of the diet.
    • The above suggestions are made assuming that corn silage is not the sole forage in the ration. If corn silage is the sole forage, the lower limits on FDNF should be increased 3 to 5 percentage units, and adequate particle size of the forage becomes even more important. This is because corn silage has fewer long particles than haylage and the corn grain is more rapidly degraded (more like high moisture corn) in the rumen than dry shelled corn.
    • The above suggestions are being made assuming that dry corn is the principal concentrate providing starch to the ration. If more rapidly fermented starch sources are used (e.g., wheat, barley, high moisture corn, and steam-flaked corn), replace no more than 50% of the dry corn with one of these other starch sources or increase the amount of fiber in the ration.
    • It is not necessary to add hay to a dairy cow ration, but hay does provide a safety net when feeding low fiber diets because of its particle size - provides for more cud chewing and a more dense rumen mat.
    • Sorting of the total mixed ration should always be minimized but will especially be important when feeding low forage diets.
    • Always add a buffer to the ration at about 0.8% of DM when feeding low fiber diets.
    • When using these guidelines, keep in mind that a balance needs to be maintained between fiber and starch in the ration. When feeding low fiber rations without WCS, a ratio of FNDF:NFC of 0.45 to 0.50 appears adequate.

    Management of low forage feeding programs must be very intense; without such intensity in management, greater risk in metabolic disease and negative animal performance is assumed by the dairy farmer. Changes in forage quality or particle size can result in major problems with little notice. Watch for the following as indicators of inadequate fiber intake: highly variable feed intake and milk yield, several cows within a group with inverted milk fat and protein percentages, or increased incidence of displaced abomasum, sore feet, and loose feces.

  7. Feeding Corn Stover to Ruminants

    Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Extension Dairy Specialist, The Ohio State University

    With the dry conditions this year in many areas of Ohio, the yield of hay has been reduced and corn silage yields are going to be quite variable based on planting time and geographical area. Therefore, forage supplies are going to be quite limited this year, and several areas have been already reporting unreasonably high hay prices. Obviously, ruminants must have forage in their diets to remain healthy. Also with the current hay and grain prices, overall feed costs are going to be elevated for quite some time. With these conditions, alternative forage sources are being considered, including the feeding of corn stover (corn plant after grain harvest). The composition of corn stover is provided in Table 1, and it is compared to the composition of corn grain, corn silage, and wheat straw. The grain and forage components of corn are low in protein, but they especially contribute energy to the diet and in the case for the forage component, fiber for ruminal health. Because of the lower starch and higher fiber, corn stover provides less energy than corn grain or silage. The comparison of the composition of corn stover with wheat straw is made because wheat straw is sometimes fed at low concentrations (2 to 8% of dietary DM) to lactating dairy cattle as a source of effective fiber (fiber that stimulates rumination) and higher concentrations are sometimes fed to nonlactating, nongrowing ruminants. The price for wheat straw is often quite high and the supply often limited caused by the demand for its use as bedding and feed. When you consider that about 50% of the corn plant is stover and that at least 4 times more acres of corn are produced in Ohio compared to acres of wheat, the availability of corn stover is not limited. The composition of corn stover and wheat straw is somewhat similar and are similar in price values at the reported DM (Table 1), but at similar DM (e.g. 90%), corn stover is valued at about 5% more than wheat straw.

    Some things that must be considered when feeding corn stover are:

    1. Animals can be pastured on a corn field harvested for grain, but their presence in the field must be limited initially because they will eat too much grain that was left in the field. A considerable amount of feed wastage also occurs with pasturing corn fields.
    2. Because of the low protein in corn stover and the limited intake that may occur, additional supplementation is usually necessary, even for nonlactating, nongrowing animals.
    3. The feeding value of ammoniated corn stover is higher than for unammoniated stover. Ammoniated corn stalks (applied at 2 to 3% of DM; increase in CP by 6 to 8 percentage units) fed with 2 lb/day of grain supplement to 525 lb steers increased DM intake, DM digestibility, and N retention compared to unammoniated corn stalks fed with the same amount of supplement (Purdue University). Mature beef cows fed similar diets had higher DM intake and weight gain with ammoniated versus unammoniated corn stover.
    4. Because of the large particle size of corn stover, challenges may occur when adding stover to a total mixed ration because cows can readily sort through the TMR, leaving the corn stalks in the bunk and having lower fiber intake than anticipated. Therefore, reducing the particle size before or during mixing will be important in reducing the risks for sorting.
    5. The corn stover certainly can provide a considerable amount of energy and fiber as a forage source; however, very low inclusion rates in lactating cow diets can help to provide an effective fiber source (95% of the fiber in corn stover is regarded as effective fiber) and may also be used to reduce a small amount of starch from the ration. However, corn stover is not an effective replacement for grain, even if pelleted. For example, in an University of Illinois study reported this year, corn stover was treated with calcium oxide and water, mixed with distillers grains (3:1 corn stover:distillers grains), and then pelleted. Diets fed to lactating dairy cows contained 40% corn silage, 10% alfalfa silage, 5.5% soybean hulls, and either 0, 11, or 22% of the corn stover pellet to replace corn grain. As the amount of corn stover pellet increased, DM intake, milk yield, and milk protein percentage decreased. Thus, even with chemical processing and reduction to a small particle size, corn stover is not a replacement for corn grain as an energy source.

    The supply of corn stover is plentiful and it should be evaluated as a source of forage in diets for ruminants during times of limited forage supply and when desiring to provide low amounts of additional effective fiber in diets for maintaining rumen health.

    Table 1. Composition (DM basis) of corn-based feeds and wheat straw.

    Corn Grain
    Corn Silage
    Corn Stover
    Wheat Straw
    DM, %
    CP, %
    TDN, %
    ME, Mcal/lb
    NEL, Mcal/lb
    NEm, Mcal/lb
    NEg, Mcal/lb
    NDF, %
    ADF, %
    Lignin, %
    Ash, %

    1DM = Dry matter, CP = crude protein, TDN = total digestible nutrients, ME = metabolizable energy,
    NEL = net energy for lactation, NEm= net energy for maintenance, NEg = net energy for gain,
    NDF = neutral detergent fibe

  8. Results from Research Supported by the Ohio Dairy Research Fund

    Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Extension Dairy Specialist, The Ohio State University

    The Ohio Dairy Research Fund was developed to support research by voluntary dairy producer contributions. Since 1982, about $731,000 in producer investments have funded research that has greatly benefited Ohio's dairy industry. From time to time, results of this research will be included in the Buckeye Dairy News. For this issue, the results from five recent projects are provided below.

    Assessing Biotin Status of Lactating Cows
    William P. Weiss and G. Ferreira, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    The addition of supplemental biotin (a B-vitamin) to dairy diets is becoming more common. In research studies, the addition of biotin to dairy diets has consistently improved measures of hoof health. In many studies, but not all, biotin has also increased milk yield apparently independent of effects on hoof health. The objective of this study was to determine whether an index of biotin status could be identified that was related to the likelihood of obtaining a milk response. Based on previous studies, high producing cows are more likely to have a milk yield response to supplemental biotin than low producing cows. Therefore, we conducted an experiment with high producing (average yield = 95 lb/day) and low producing cows (51 lb/day). All cows were fed the same basal diet with and without supplemental biotin (approximate supplementation rate was 20 mg/day). Blood, milk, and urine were sampled and analyzed for biotin. In addition, cows were given an intraruminal infusion of valeric acid and urinary excretion of a metabolite was monitored. Valeric acid is a normal product of ruminal fermentation and its metabolism depends on biotin-containing enzymes. If biotin is limited, then providing additional valeric acid might overwhelm the normal biochemical pathways and an alternate metabolite (3-hydroxyisovaleric acid) will be produced and excreted in the urine.

    Supplemental biotin increased milk yield by about 6 lb/day in high producing cows but had no effect on milk yield of low producing cows. The response by high producing cows occurred within 3 days of supplementation. Supplemental biotin increased concentrations of biotin in plasma, milk, and urine in both high and low producing cows, but responses were similar in both production groups. Urinary excretion of hydroxyisovaleric acid following the infusion of valeric acid was higher for high producing cows, but biotin supplementation had no effect. We were not successful in identifying a measure of biotin status in lactating cows that could be used to determine when cows were likely to respond to supplemental biotin.

    Supplemental Rumen-Protected Choline and Methionine for Lactating Dairy Cows
    Maurice Eastridge, Joanna Engel, and Claudio Ribeiro, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    The primary purposes of the experiments were to establish the magnitude of protection of 3 commercially available, rumen protected choline (RPC) sources [Reashure® (REA), Balchem Encapsulates, New Hampton, NY; By Pass Choline (BPC), Robt Morgan, Inc., Paris, IL; and Pro-CholineTM 40, Probiotech, Inc., St-Eustache, QC, Canada] and to determine the effects of supplemental rumen-protected choline (REA) and rumen protected methionine (Smartamine MTM, Adisseo, Antony Cedex, France) on the metabolism and performance of lactating dairy cows. Using in situ procedures in Experiment I , Reashure was found to be more rumen stable than the other two choline sources. In Experiment II, 56 lactating dairy cows were fed one of 4 diets at parturition: 1) control [duodenal flow of lysine:methionine (lys:met) 3.8], 2) 0.26% rumen protected choline (RPC) (REA fed at 60 g/d to provide 15 g/d of choline; lys:met 3.8; REA-L), 3) 0.52% RPC (REA fed at 120 g/d to provide 30 g/d of choline; lys:met 3.8; REA-H), or 4) 0.096% rumen protected methionine (Smartamine MTM; lys:met 3.0; MET).  The diets were fed as a total mixed ration for 13 weeks and were composed of 52% forage (76% corn silage and 24% alfalfa hay), 9% whole linted cottonseed, and 39% concentrates.  The diets were 16.8% crude protein, 39.2% NDF, and 20% forage NDF.  Thirty-one Holstein and 17 Jersey (48 total) cows completed the trial.  Dry matter intake (45.3 lb/day), milk yield (80.3 lb/day), milk fat (4.35%), and milk protein (3.14%) were found to be the same among all 4 diets.  The milk urea nitrogen was the highest for REA-H (19.1 mg/dl) and intermediate for MET (18.1 mg/dl).  Milk choline concentration was highest for MET, but plasma choline and non-esterified fatty acids were not different for the diets.  Plasma glucose was higher for both the control and MET diets than for either REA diet.  Plasma methionine was significantly higher for the MET diet than for other diets.  Conclusions from the study were: 1) Reashure was more rumen stable than the other two choline sources, 2) milk choline is a better indicator of choline status than plasma choline, and 3) feeding MET to the periparturient dairy cow may be beneficial for reducing risks of  metabolic diseases and improving animal performance related to choline status.

    A Survey of Bovine Practitioners to Determine the Prevalence of and Factors Associated with Acute Bloat Syndrome in Pre-Weaned Dairy Heifers
    Dianne Shoemaker, Department of Extension; Päivi Rajala-Schultz, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine; and Lowell Midla, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine; The Ohio State University

    Acute Bloat Syndrome (ABS) has been identified by 276 veterinarians across the country on a median of four farms per practitioner.  Common symptoms included abdominal distension, fluid slosh in the abdomen, colic, and dehydration.  Symptoms did not commonly include either diarrhea or an elevated temperature.  The majority of cases were seen in calves 4 to 21 days old.  Knowledge of these common clinical signs can help calf managers detect problems in calves as early as possible and to begin treatment of the syndrome.

    In calves exhibiting clinical symptoms, respondents suggested effective treatments and therapies. Some combination of antibiotics, rumen tonics, anti-inflammatories, and bloat-relieving measures may be effective in some cases.  The majority of possible preventive therapies focused around the diet and feeding program.  However, no particular diet or feeding strategy in place on any of the case farms precluded a case of ABS from occurring.

    Notwithstanding that management was rated as good to excellent on most farms where a case had been seen, various improvements in calf management practices (e.g. consistency in feeding time intervals) were cited as being effective at preventing future cases.  This underscores the idea that attention to detail cannot be overstated regarding calf management practices. 

     While isolation of Clostridia spp. from clinical cases in no way proves that Clostridia spp. are the causative agents of ABS, the frequency with which these organisms were isolated deserves to be noted.  Sarcinia spp. were the second most common bacterial isolate.  Sarcinia spp. have been associated with an abomasal bloat type syndrome in goat kids.  Further research to clarify the role of Clostridia spp. and Sarcinia spp. in the pathogenesis of ABS is needed. 

    Capturing and Recycling Dairy Nitrogen Manure Nutrients with Winter Cover Crops
    James J. Hoorman, James N. Lopshire, Chris L. Bruynis, Glen J. Arnold, Alan P. Sundermeir, and Steve C. Prochaska, The Ohio State University

    Nitrogen prices have doubled, motivating producers to conserve nutrients with winter cover crops (WCC).  With increased regulations on the winter application of manure, planting WCC's to capture fall and early winter applied manure nutrients is an option for livestock farmers.  Ohio State University Extension assisted nine livestock farmers in saving nitrogen from the fall application of manure by planting WCC plots.  The WCC treatments included annual ryegrass (ARG), cereal rye (CR), and oilseed radish (OSR) compared to bare land.  Each treatment had three rates (0, 6,000, and 12,000 gallons) of dairy liquid manure applied. Measurements were recorded for soil nitrogen, soil nutrient losses, plant nitrogen, and survivability. Our research has shown that WCC are great scavengers of excess nitrogen (up to 500 lb/acre) and phosphorous (60 lb/acre). Plant biomass analysis showed that OSR and ARG absorbed significantly more nitrogen than CR (P < 0.01) and significantly more soil nitrate nitrogen (P < 0.0001) and soil total nitrogen for the next crop. Carbon was significantly higher for CR (P < 0.0001) and for carbon-nitrogen ratio (P < 0.01).

    Preliminary data show that grass WCC such as annual ryegrass (ARG) and cereal rye (CR) have the potential to be utilized by livestock farmers to absorb manure nutrients and prevent manure winter runoff. The nitrogen in dairy manure can be recycled to the next crop if the WCC are killed in early April and the cover crops have time to decay and release nutrients back into the soil. Annual grass WCC are preferred to other cover crops (oil seed radish) because they provide the additional benefit of protecting the soil during the winter months from soil erosion.  Additional research is needed to quantify the effects of cover crops on recycling other manure nutrients (phosphorous and potassium), coliform survivability, water infiltration, and water retention in the soil profile.

    Determining Annual Trend of H2S and Odor Levels at Dairy Manure Storage Ponds and Downwind Property Line for Effective and Economic Air Quality Management
    Lingying Zhao, X. Wang, M. Darr, R. Manuzon, M. Brugger, E. Imernan, and G. Arnold, The Ohio State University

    The study results indicated that there are large seasonal variations in ammonia (NH3), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and odor levels at the dairy manure storage pond. Warmer months, such as May to August, were generally associated with high levels of NH3 and odor. The H2S levels varied without a trend. During the eight-month study period, the overall gas and odor levels at the manure storage pond were generally not high enough to cause air quality concerns. The mean NH3 levels varied from 1.2 to 7.4 ppm; H2S 2 to 72 ppb (parts per billion); and odor level 96 to 381 OU/m3.

    Since odor is a subjective perception of an individual, it is difficult to say exactly what odor level is odor free and what level is very offensive. However, the study indicated that hot months generally had relative high odor levels. If odor is a concern to neighbors and limited mitigation can be afforded, then warmer months are the critical time for odor abatement practices. 

    The H2S levels on the dairy farm studied were generally low. The H2S dispersed well during noon sampling periods. The dairy facility did not significantly affect the ambient H2S level at the 1000 ft downwind neighboring areas during the study period.

    The NH3 emission from the 650 to 700 cow operation was likely more than 100 lb/day in warmer months. However, H2S was not a concern at all in reference to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act reporting requirements.

  9. Changes in Iodine Availability for Dipping Calf Navels at Birth

    Mrs. Dianne Shoemaker, Extension Dairy Specialist, OSU Extension Center at Wooster (top of page)

    Completing one of the critical steps in newborn calf care will now take a little more planning.  Having a constant supply of 7% tincture of iodine on the farm is more important than it was less than a month ago as the product is no longer available at local or through mail-order farm supply outlets.

    Question: Why is 7% tincture of iodine no longer available at retail stores or through catalogs for dipping calf navels?

    Answer:  Creative illegal drug manufacturers and unscrupulous livestock supply dealers conspired to use 7% iodine to produce iodine crystals which were then used to produce methamphetamines.  As a result, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) moved iodine, previously designated as a list 2 chemical, to a list 1 chemical.  For us, that means that the DEA will now regulate sales of all products containing more than 2.2% iodine.

    Question:  Can I still purchase 7% iodine to dip calf navels?

    Answer:  Yes, but it can only be purchased through a vendor who is registered to handle controlled products.  It is likely that your veterinarian is registered to handle other DEA controlled substances and may also carry 7% iodine for their clients.  It will mean extra paperwork for the veterinarian's business.  Talk to them before your current supply runs out!

    Question:  So, why bother dipping navels at all?

    Answer:  An important step in newborn calf care is dipping the calf's umbilical cord in a 7% tincture of iodine as soon after birth as possible.  A tincture contains alcohol.  The alcohol provides drying action, while the iodine has disinfectant properties.  It is a long-held belief that this management practice plays a large role in preventing navel ill and other infections.

    Logically, it makes sense.  The umbilical cord is the calf's lifeline in the uterus, delivering nutrients and removing wastes during gestation.  Following birth, it no longer serves those functions, but it is still a direct route into the calf's body until total closure takes place.  Nature provides for the umbilical cord to close off, dry off, fall off, and heal over, just as nature provides for the calf to receive passive immunity through the dam's colostrum.  Our management practices of navel dipping and hand-feeding colostrum are designed to help nature do its job.

    Question:  Is there a good substitute for 7% tincture of iodine?

    Answer:  Possibly, but right now anyone who tells you anything specific is probably guessing.  A quick search of past and current research turns up no studies on this topic specifically

    Question:  Why not use one of the iodine-based teat dips?

    Answer:  We do know teat dips are not effective as navel dips.  Iodine-based teat dips contain 1% iodine or less.  They also don't contain the alcohols comparable to an iodine tincture.  Tinctures containing 2% iodine will still be available over the counter.  A short-term patch would be to use these for several days in a row until the umbilical cord is completely dried.  Realistically, most farms are doing well to get a navel dipped once in 7% iodine, let alone re-dipping two or three more times.

    Dipping navels in 7% tincture of iodine is an important management practice, helping to minimize illness and death loss in dairy calves.  Keeping an adequate supply on hand will take a little more planning since the product is now a USDEA List 1 chemical.  Don't use this change as an excuse not to dip calf navels.  Eventually, a calf or calves will fall victim to septicemia or navel ill.  Don't let your calves be victims of illegal drugs.

  10. Results of Dairy Skillathon and Dairy Judging Clinics at Ohio State Fair

    Mrs. Bonnie Ayars, Dairy Program Specialist, The Ohio State University (top of page)

    With the 2007 Ohio State Fair now in the history books, I am pleased to report that all of our 4-H Dairy events were up in numbers. The 4-Hers, advisors, and exhibitors can take pride in this accomplishment! Thank you for your support, and if you have any comments and suggestions for 2008, just phone or email me.  Following is a brief description of each activity.  Click on the links below for more details and photos!

    Dairy Skillathon: Even though we held only one skillathon this year, 75 ambitious youth completed all the stations with the expert assistance of our volunteers.  It was also impressive to have Ohio's First Lady, Frances Strickland, visiting and taking part in our event!  Matt Weeman of Wayne County was the Overall Winner.

    Dairy Judging Clinics:  Two judging clinics were held. Each had 3 classes and one set of oral reasons. A total of over 70 participated.  In an effort to make this more of a clinic rather than just a contest, Bernie Heisner and John Ayars were on hand to discuss placing classes and also listened to reasons and providing suggestions for improvement. There was excellent discussion with the kids, but we need to find more time for our beginners too!  Look for a Reasons Clinic later this year!

    Ohio 4-H Dairy Judging Teams: Seven 4-H members traveled all over the state from August 23-25 in conjunction with Michigan 4-Hers.  They placed 23 classes and gave 7 sets of reasons.  It was a test of endurance, but everyone improved despite the heat, flooding, tornadoes, and very long days.  Look for more updates on the first and second teams that will be out representing us this fall!

    OSU Collegiate Dairy Judging Team: These students put their lives on hold to manage the Ohio State Fair milking parlor.  From 4:30 a.m. to at least 9:00 p.m., the eight team members did their very best to fulfill an important commitment as well as provide a service to exhibitors. They gave up some of their summer income to prove their interest in dairy judging.  Three of the students were even taking summer classes.  Some days, the parlor barely had time to close down and after the 50th Holstein Futurity, they were still washing the line at midnight.  They should be commended for the tremendous effort put forth to help earn some income for their fall judging experiences.  It was particularly pleasing to have cards and letters of appreciation sent to them after the fair.  Also the "milk a cow" event continues to draw in hundreds of fair goers.  With the help of Dr. Eastridge and some additional students, the judging kids also took care of the animals for this and shared their expertise with all those who couldn't wait to take a turn.  As another outreach effort to consumers, facts and information from www.dairyfarmingtoday.org, were posted on the parlor windows.  It is always interesting to note the kinds of questions that consumers have about dairying and this gave the aspiring judges an opportunity to become better at reasoning.

    For all of the above activities, there are photos available if anyone would like to use them in publications: http://4hansci.osu.edu/dairy.htm. A new bulletin board outside of my office also helps to tell the story of our summer activities.

  11. Dairy Management Workshops

    Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Extension Dairy Specialist, The Ohio State University (top of page)

    A Risk Management Education grant was received to offer the program "Teaching Management Skills to Dairy Producers".  This program will be conducted as a 3-day intense workshop one-day per week in different locations around the State:

    Mercer County - February 13, 20, and 27; Host:Todd Mangen (419) 586-2179, mangen.8@osu.edu

    Paulding County - February 19, 26, and March 4; Host: Jim Lopshire (419) 399-8225, lopshire.1@osu.edu

    Ashtabula County - February 25, March 3, and March 10; Host: David Marrison, (440) 576-9008, marrison.2@osu.edu

    Mahoning County - March 12, 19, and 26; Host: David Goerig, (740) 533-5538, goerig.1@osu.edu

    Wayne County - March 13, 20, and 27; Host: Terry Kline, (330) 264-8722, kline.141@osu.edu

    The program will include Finpack assessments and a visit to each farm by the instructors for assessing opportunities for improvement.  If you have any additional questions about the program or about how producers can register, contact Chris Zoller, OSU Extension Educator, Tuscarawas County, 330-339-2337, zoller.1@osu.edu, or one of the local hosts.