Proactive starch testing pays off

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When dairy nutritionist Martha Baker, Amherst, N.Y., decided to implement rapid starch testing on one of her large dairy customers last year, she was looking for a proactive approach to optimize starch availability – before problems occurred from drought-stressed forages.

  • operation had been utilizing corn silage in its ration for nearly 100 percent of its forage with a little straw.
  • he herd was in an area that was significantly impacted by drought. The herd grows all of its own forages, of which only part of the fields were irrigated.
  • Both drought-stressed corn and corn from irrigated fields were stored in separate bunkers. The herd wanted to feed from both bunkers at the same time.
  • Drought-stressed corn produced smaller plants with fully developed ears of corn. And, while this corn was harvested at the correct dry matter (DM) this meant that the material was higher in starch than typical corn silage. Running a Calibrate® test showed that corn silage from the drought-stressed fields contained starch that was more readily available.
  • Corn silage from the irrigated fields tested at a lower starch value. Not only was it lower in starch, but the starch from this feedstuff was less readily available. Irrigated corn silage contained 32% starch compared to 36% starch in the drought-stressed feed.

“I brought this technology to this business to take a proactive approach to what could have been a problematic year. Calibrate® Technologies gives me the greatest insights on starch digestibility and the amount of starch that is actually available to the rumen microbes, not just how much starch is in the ration or feedstuff. This additional knowledge allows me to make the best ration decisions possible. It is one of the best diagnostic tools that I have to troubleshoot the diet when it comes to starch,” says Martha Baker, dairy nutritionist with Purina Animal Nutrition.


Calibrate® technology allows for a greater understanding and ability to give producers and nutritionists long-term insights to create rations that are specific to the feed ingredients they are feeding and what is actually available to the rumen microbes.

  • Being proactive and knowing what is in feed ingredients before issues arise can save on ration costs and support optimal milk production and feed efficiency.
  • By utilizing the Calibrate® test information this operation was able to reduce grain feeding by 3 pounds on a dry matter basis, while maintaining production and milk components.
  • Calibrate® technology rapid starch testing provides up-to-date information on an ongoing basis.
  • Supports greater confidence in the actual starch availability of corn silage from different bunkers
  • Ration formulation is much more science-based now than it has ever been.
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