Milk fat depression

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In September 2010, Red Rock Dairy experienced a drop in milk butterfat and protein. Butterfat levels dropped from 3.70 to 3.25. Protein levels, while less significant of a drop, were down from 3.04 to 2.91. Many factors could have caused the depression. A starch digestibility test was conducted on the ration ingredients using a certified Calibrate® lab and analysis.

Results showed that the herd was feeding more than 130 percent of the optimum level of ruminally digested starch to its cows. Because the herd was delivering more digested end products than necessary to the cow butterfat was suppressed. A recent change in feed ingredients without prior starch analysis was found to be the cause.

“We thought it was a good move, but it obviously it was not once we saw the response,” notes Johnny Van de Pol, herd manager. “After testing with Calibrate® technology, we were able to back the herd off of these ingredients and adjust the ration to a more optimal starch level.”

About a month after the herd adjusted the ration to a more optimal starch level butterfat levels returned to normal. (See Figure 1.) Red Rock Dairy continues to test starch levels on a regular basis.

“I think the higher the feed costs get, the better investment this service becomes. It helps us make sure we are not overfeeding or underfeeding in a particular area. And, it gives us a better idea how the ration is going to react within the cow before we even feed it to her.”

Johnny Van de Pol

The Solution: Calibrate® Technologies

Making adjustments using Calibrate® technology’s ration modeling allowed Red Rock Dairy to:

  • Return butterfat to normal levels.
  • Determine optimal rumen digestible starch.
  • Optimize overall cow health and performance.
  • Help address the incidence of subclinical rumen acidosis.
  • Increase overall herd profit potential.

Every producer has different goals. It might be to have more consistent milk components, take advantage of less expensive input and feed sources or improve overall herd health. But when balancing rations to meet those goals, nothing is more important than an informed decision.

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