Pa. summit emphasizes key to profit in dairy
BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Three presenters at the 2021 virtual Pennsylvania Dairy Summit highlighted the importance of maximizing milk components to boost profit.
Two sizes of dairy farms and a research scientist illustrated the significance of components.
Alan Waybright purchased and established his Mount Rock Dairy in Newville, Pa., in February 2019.
Of his 882 Holsteins, 338 are crosses, although Waybright said there are no differences.
In 2020, the rolling herd average was 30,025 pounds with 1,113 pounds or 3.7 percent fat, and 943 pounds protein, at 3.1 to 3.2 percent.
He purchases all his feed. Last year he used six growers. Noah Hughes and Dr. Robert Fry, both from Cargill, are his nutritionists.
For protein, three amino acids—lysine, methionine and histidine—are used. Canola meal, amino plus, and blood meal are used. The net ratio of lysine is at least 2.7 to 2.9. The feed includes 3,000 grams of metabolizable protein.
Regarding butterfat, he aims for forage above 50 percent and total mix dry matter at 48 to 50 percent. For fiber and cud chew, he feeds about 3 pounds of grass hay.
For the 0.65 pounds bicarb/cow/day in grain mix, he recommends not below 0.5 pounds per cow per day. He limits feed ingredients such as distiller grains that rank high in unsaturated fat. They keep unsaturated fat below 3 percent of the diet.
To meet energy requirements, both sugar and starch are fed. They feed 9.2 pounds per cow per day of dry corn meal and 2.16 pounds per day of candy meal. They try to keep neutral detergent fiber at or below 30 percent. In addition, rumen degradable starch is kept to 68 to 70 percent of starch protein.
Since Waybright purchases all ingredients, he can use the best sources of NDF, whether from forage and grain.
Mount Rock Dairy shared the details of their feed with the Dairy Summit attendees. Different diets are used for milking cows, dry cows, and for heifer lactating cows.
Piney Mar Farm in Martinsburg, Pa., milk 135 cows.
Jennifer Heltzel described Piney Mar Farm’s operation and their data. She and her husband, Andy, and four children own this 4th generation family farm.
On 200 acres, all their forage is from their farm. They currently have 100 heifers as well as the current 135 milking, although Jennifer reports they are trying to use fewer heifers.
In the last 16 weeks, with a 26,000 rolling herd average, they counted 4.49 percent fat, 3.5 percent protein. The milk urea nitrogen value was 11.9.
Piney Mar Farm’s cows somatic cell count was 88,000.
During the summer, the fat content measures 4.2 percent, with 3.2 percent protein.
During 2017 and 2018, fat averaged 4 percent, while protein averaged 3 percent.
Heltzel stresses keeping things simple. She lists cow care, sand stalls, heat monitoring systems, and breeding for health traits, productive life and protein/fat content.
They can customize their forage. In addition, they are unique in grouping their milk and dry cows and in milking twice daily.
The cows diet consists of corn silage, haylage, wheatlage and concentrate. They push forage wherever they can. With a Keenan mixer, feeding twice daily, and feeding accuracy, they have zero waste.
Piney Mar Farm works with a nutritionist.
Also, they fertilize their crops to maximize quality and yield. Heltzel notes the balance between quality and tonnage. Planting and sidedressing aids the quality which goes into the components.
Cow care ranks high. For example, because of the dry crops this year, Andy Heltzel added 10 pounds water per cow to make the rations more palatable.
The investment of their local mill, Bedford Farm Bureau, has provided the high quality concentrate with minerals and more, which helps their components via the cows’ diet.
Heltzel points out that every farm has to find the recipe that works for them. She also advises, “Know what you don’t know and bring the experts.”
Heather Dann, research scientist of the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute in Chazy, N.Y., focused on how fat and protein are the key drivers of profitability.
She explained that factors that impact income over feed costs include milk price, pounds of milk, pounds of components, feed conversion and feed costs. However the biggest impact lies with the components.
She noted that getting the diet right by focusing on formulation and managing the environment is critical.
In addition, she advises using good forage by focusing on degradable fiber along with protein or starch content, storing the forage properly, harvesting it at the correct maturity and managing the feedout.
Most producers have a nutritionist, Dann said, but she warned, “Your nutritionist is only as good as your forage.”
Optimizing the forage to maintain rumen health by multiple types of blends and preparing the dry cows leads to productivity and well-being. Avoiding overstocking cows and restricting feed play a part as well.
Dann listed top strategies to boost fat and protein. These include: manage rest and rumination for cow comfort; keep feed available always; feed consistent quality and quantity; keep the feed in front of cows; separate the heifer groups; and abate heat in the summer.