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TheDairySite Newsletter - 19 April 2013

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Friday 19th April 2013.
Michael Priestley - Editor

Michael Priestley

Concentrate Usage More than Doubled

Concentrate feed levels have more than doubled over the past 14 years on UK dairy farms with many units replacing in-parlour feeding systems with diet mixer wagons and outside feeders.

Consequently, feed allocation of concentrates has become more important to cattle nutrition, according to Dr Ryan Law of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in Northern Ireland (AFBINI).

While presenting recent research at the British Society of Animal Science (BSAS) Annual Conference at Nottingham University this week, Dr Law said that a counter movement had been seen in milk from forage, which had decreased by over 1000 litres/cow/year.

Initially, the move to concentrates was led by historically low cereal prices and then the ‘rapid’ increase in milk yield genetics of dairy cows.

This trend towards concentrated feeding needs exploring, said Dr Law. This is why his paper, carried out with help from Dr Conrad Ferris, also of the AFBINI, analysed four concentration allocation methods.

The paper concluded varying the way concentrate is fed has ‘very little’ affect on cow performance. Therefore, Dr Law added, concentration strategies will not help greatly when striving to meet the nutrient requirements of a cluster or cows in a tight calving pattern.

While the shift to feed more concentrates has little impact on feed methods on-farm, the problem of over feeding concentrated minerals could impact on the use of vital elements such as copper.

As UK dairy cows receive minerals from several sources, there is a dearth of accurate information on UK dairy herd intake levels.

The objective for Professor Liam Sinclair of Harper Adams University was, therefore, to determine intake levels of several ‘important’ minerals. These are the ‘macro elements’ of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous and ‘trace elements’ copper, zinc, iron and manganese.

The conclusion was that most farms sampled provided too much mineral concentration with some underfeeding. The inclusion of molybdenum in many diets meant that high copper concentrations were not justifiable.

The detrimental impact Molybdenum has on copper utilisation was discussed at length in another paper by Professor Sinclair.

In a discussion of his paper, Professor Sinclair revealed to the BSAS conference audience that molybdenum binds to sulphur, forming thiomolybdates.

These thiomolybdate molecules are believed to bind to the copper in the rumen making the copper unusable for the animal. The worth of supplementing copper elements, therefore, rests on molybdenum in the animal’s diet in relation to sulphur.

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This Weeks Articles and Analysis

Feed and Fodder Challenges for Asia and the Pacific
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Managing Price Volatility in Dairy Farming
Building a cash buffer, forward-purchase of inputs, lowering capital spending,income stabilisation tool, forward contracts and farm savings accounts all stand as viable options to use to decrease market volatility, says Tadhge Buckley of Teagasc.

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