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Dairy Grist

VOL 15 ISSUE 3 | FA L L 2013

A P E R I O D I C N E W S L E T T E R P R O D U C E D B Y G R A N D V A L L E Y F O R T I F I E R S LT D .

Jim Ross, Chairman

Dear friends, What a difference a year makes! Last year most of Ontario sweltered under unrelenting heat and crops were suffering not only from the heat but very low rainfall as well. This year is very different. The crops are in very good shape, and moisture levels are very adequate. The only thing which we desire is some more heat to bring a potentially massive crop to maturity across the US and Canada. One benefit of this summer’s cooler weather is that cow health and milk production are significantly better than the summer of 2012. With a bumper harvest staring us in the face, most of us believe that corn and soy prices will come down substantially this fall. However, there is another factor which could very well come into reality this year and that is the inflationary effect from Mr. Ben Bernanke’s decision to print 85 million dollars in US currency per month. Very recently, gold and silver prices are beginning to rise and I believe if they continue to do so, feed grains and other commodities will follow. This could result in a major surprise to those purchasing their feed supplies in the coming year. Wishing you good farming, Jim Ross


by: JEFF KEUNEN, Ruminant & Robot ROBOTIC MILKING NUTRITION Nutritionist Grand Valley Fortifiers


he Ontario dairy industry is one of the leading dairy industries in the world when it comes to implementation of precision dairy technologies. Robotic milking systems are a key part of this technology advancement with dairy producers now using five different brands TM of automatic milking systems. With the arrival of these increasing MILKING NUTRITION options, dairy farmers also haveROBOTIC increasing options on how to manage their dairy herd. Free cow traffic or guided cow traffic, such as milk first, feed first or modified milk first are now all being implemented on dairy farms with great success and producer approval. These options not only allow a dairy producer to manage their cows and time differently, but also allow for different ways of feeding the milking herd. With all these options now available, Grand Valley Fortifiers has made the move to take robotic milking nutrition to the next level with the development of our new Robolac™ dairy pellets. With more than 10 years of successfully feeding robotic milk systems, Robolac™ dairy pellets provide a next

GRAND VALLEY FORTIFIERS LTD. 486 Main Street East, PO Box 726 Cambridge, ON N1R 5W6 1-800-567-4400 w w

generation of products to more specifically target the needs of your robotic milking operation. The Robolac™ line of dairy pellets combines many of the technologies and solutions we have learned over the years through research, practical application and visiting dairy farms around the world. These products have been formulated to encourage more visits to the robot, provide excellent palatability to ensure intakes and to complement the nutritional demands of your dairy cows and the base milking ration. Research proven feed flavours and sweeteners help ensure that cows will readily consume the pellets when given the opportunity. All vegetable protein ingredients provide an excellent complement of digestible and bypass protein fractions to improve animal performance while still maintaining palatability. Combinations of energy and digestible non-forage fibre sources provide an excellent ratio of starch, sugars and digestible fibre to maintain excellent pellet quality, improve rumen health and microbial dynamics and encourage continual visits to the robot or feeding unit. High quality vitamins and minerals help maintain health, reproduction and performance of high producing dairy cattle that are the foundation of your dairy herd. With the development of four different products, Robolac™ dairy pellets are well positioned to fit the needs to your dairy depending on your production goals, traffic type, and on farm feed ingredients. Following is a brief description of the products and their designed area of use:

Ian Ross, President | Jim Ross, Chairman Clarke Walker, VP & COO Mark Bowman/Jeff Keunen, Ruminant Nutritionist David Ross/Patti Bobier, Publishers

Robolac™ FC 20% – designed for farmers looking to maximize their production and ensure high peak milk yields in a “free cow” traffic system. This 20% pellet will provide both protein and energy to meet the needs of high producers and help maintain excellent intakes and traffic to the robot. Robolac™ FF 18% – designed for “feed first” systems or for “free cow” traffic farms with a two group feeding system where producers are looking to supplement the lower producers with a second feed type. This 18% pellet will save some cost vs. the 20% pellet and can also be used where the base TMR is balanced a little bit higher in protein and energy. Robolac™ MF 16% – designed to be fed in a “milk first” traffic system where the TMR at the feed bunk is balanced much higher than in traditional free cow systems. This 16% pellet will help maintain fat test and improve rumen health vs. a higher starch alternative. Feeding rate of this product tends to be much lower than feeds in a “free cow” or “feed first” traffic system. Robolac™ 32% Supplement – designed to be fed in conjunction with your own on farm grains or in a prepared grain mix for the robot. This 32% pellet allows farmers to save money on purchased feeds by utilising their own grains and still provides the necessary protein, vitamins and minerals for the higher producing dairy cows. Robolac™ 32% can be fed in any of the cow traffic system when the feeding systems are set up for both grain and pellet feeding. With an ever expanding population of farmers using or considering robotic milking systems in their dairy operation, Grand Valley Fortifiers is committed to providing high quality, next level nutrition for your robotic milking herd. The new Robolac™ line of robotic milking nutrition products is here to help you realize the potential of your dairy herd. By working together with your robot supplier and one of our dairy specialists we are confident that you can maximize the value of your milking robot and achieve your production goals. n


by: MARK BOWMAN, Senior Ruminant Nutritionist, Grand Valley Fortifiers


alf starter feeds have been fed for many years along with milk or milk replacer to help achieve growth and development of young calves. Traditionally, milk or milk replacer intake was limited to 4–5 litres to help encourage early calf starter intake and lower cost. However, calves under one month of age have limited ability to digest calf starter feeds due to lack of rumen and digestive system development, resulting in poor growth and health of calves fed in this manner. Unfortunately, this was for too long accepted as normal. Today we understand that calves must be offered much larger volumes of milk or milk replacer during the first month of life to achieve their growth potential and remain healthy. We have seen a move to group housing and automated feeding of calves with some producers offering free choice intake of milk or milk replacer. Calves should be allowed to consume at least 8 litres of milk or milk replacer daily by 4 weeks of age for best results. Then milk feeding should be reduced in weeks 5–7 to encourage calf starter intake and prepare calves for weaning. Calf starter should be offered to calves by 1 week old, although they will not eat significant amounts until after 3 weeks old when rumen development begins to occur. Starter feeds promote propionate and

butyrate production in the rumen and is essential for growth and development of rumen papillae. As the rumen develops, calves are able to eat more calf starter and derive more of their energy and protein requirements from dry feed. Hence, it is important to promote starter intake prior to weaning to avoid a large post-weaning slump in growth. Calves should not be weaned from milk or milk replacer until they are eating at least 2 kg of calf starter for 3 consecutive days. Calf starter feeding is essential to maintain rapid growth through weaning and beyond. Failure to do this well often results in calves eating poorly after weaning so that growth is retarded and health compromised. So one may ask, how important is the kind of calf starter in determining intake and growth? Calf starters consist most often of textured feeds containing steam flaked or rolled corn and grains combined with a pelleted supplement and plenty of wet molasses. The idea is to provide a tasty feed and avoid fines to encourage consumption by the calves. It is well proven that these textured starters do a great job and promote growth and development of the rumen. However, these starters are more expensive to produce, difficult to handle in bulk and automated feeders and do have a shorter shelf live than other types of feed. Once calves are weaned and eating well there is no longer a benefit to these types of starters. Pelleted calf starter and grower feeds offer a lower cost alternative to textured starters. They can be received in bulk (which further lowers cost) and work well in automated calf feeders. Flavours can be added to encourage consumption and young calves will begin to eat starter pellets just as well as many textured starters. Be sure to feed grass hay or chopped straw along with pelleted calf starters which lack the physical scratch factor of textured feeds and although they promote rumen development, absorption of nutrients may be impaired. After weaning, pelleted calf grower should be fed at 3 kg per day along with grass hay or haylage. Whole grain textured calf starter provides an interesting alternative to both traditional textured and pelleted starters. Combining whole corn and grain with pellets and a lower level of wet molasses, these starters are consumed very well by young calves, flow and handle well in automated feeding systems and have a longer shelf life than traditional textured starters. They promote rumen growth and development and have excellent physical scratch factor to maintain higher rumen pH and health. Regardless of what type of calf starter is fed, calves must have access to plenty of clean water to meet requirements and increase starter intake. This is true in all seasons of the year and even when calves are fed large amounts of milk or milk replacer. More recently, researchers have established that calves offered grass hay along with calf starter will eat more feed and experience superior rumen growth and development. These management factors are more important for intake and growth of calves than the physical type of calf starter that is fed. So choose the type of starter that best fits your feeding and management system. This spring and summer Grand Valley Fortifiers partnered with our friends at Grober Nutrition to conduct calf starter feeding trials at the Grober Young Animal Development Centre on the site of the Outdoor Farm Show at Woodstock. Here we fed three different physical kinds of our Bionic Calf Starters: (1) Traditional Textured, (2) New Whole Grain Textured, and (3) Pelleted Starter/Grower in both individual calf pens and in group pens. Calf starter intakes and growth of dairy calves were measured from 2 weeks until 3 months old and compared for these starter feeds in the two different housing and feeding systems. Be sure to come and visit with our dairy specialists at the Grober Young Animal Centre during the Farm Show in September to see our new Bionic® Whole Grain Calf Starter and to see the results of the feeding trial comparing the different types of calf starter. n

Scene &Herd by: ART GROENEWEGEN Grand Valley Fortifiers Dairy Sales Manager

BIRDS, BIRDS and more BIRDS, they are everywhere!!


riving through my home county of Oxford, there’s those birds again. Looks like tens of thousands of birds – crows whatever they are, perched in the trees to the south of Woodstock. As John, who lives in south Oxford sees, they swarm the dump south of town in the morning consuming the trash of the day, go to his place in the afternoon for a feast at his bunker and then by dinner hour they are hovering the outskirts of town looking for another meal. Perhaps your farm experiences similar swarms of birds, swooshing into your barn, perched on the head rails and pecking the goodies out of the TMR. Of course, while they are pecking the grains out of the TMR, they leave their excreta in the feed. How much the TMR is altered is a guesstimate, but we can assume that only grains are picked out thus altering the composition of this TMR substantially. Perhaps a few will move to the calf area and feast on the calf starter (maybe a reason to try pelleted starter) and leave their droppings there too. The rest of the flock might enjoy a buffet in your bunker, picking out the nice pieces of corn (of those whose processor wasn’t set up quite tight enough). Not only are these birds stealing your feed, they are potentially contaminating your farm with their droppings and spreading bacteria such as salmonella or fungal diseases such as cryptococcosis. Dairymen look at shrink as losses on their farm where feed is blown away, spoiled or consumed by creatures other than the cows. Here are some estimates from wildlife service to ponder: Feedlot researchers in the U.S. found 2,000 starlings, weighing 85 grams each, will consume 1 to 2 tonne of feed a month. They will also spoil about 500 to 1000 kg a month. Likely their item of choice would be those little expensive bits of protein, energy and premix, not the forages. Estimates are that if dairies have up to 1,000 birds on site daily, the losses would be a little over 4% of feed supply to spoilage. Dairies with upwards of 10,000 birds on site will have shrink levels over 9%. We know birds can and are a problem everywhere. But what to do about them is a bigger question. Here is a brief summary of bird elimination strategies one can evaluate. Details can be found on the internet for these strategies mentioned below: 1. Live trapping. By using live birds as decoys to enter a trap. 2. Nesting boxes. Owl and Sparrow Hawk or else called “Kestrel” nesting boxes situated in the barn. Check the web for instructions how to build a nesting box. They say,” build it and they will come”. Inviting these predator birds in your barn will certainly keep the prey out. 3. Exclusion and bird proofing. Closing openings and vents to prevent starlings from entering. Eliminating or modifying perching sites. 4. Feed and water protection. Limit feed access areas, close feed bins, commodity sheds. Lower water levels to prevent access to birds. Eliminate standing water areas for birds. 5. Frightening techniques. Commercial devices such as Bird Guard or other noise makers. (Available from

Dairy Grist

6. Shooting. Eliminate smaller populations of birds with safety in mind 7. Repellants and baits. Where they are legal. These are just a few of the solutions that producers have tried. The frustration is that eliminating bird problems on farm is not a quick and easy exercise. It will take trial and error to determine what works for you. Knowing the losses that can occur on your farm and the contamination that occurs from birds should make us all look at strategies to address the excess bird population on your farm. n


with Henry Verhoog Grand Valley Fortifiers Senior Dairy Specialist

Years of Service: 26 Hometown: Bornholm, ON Email:

Q: With a monthly SNF ratio policy now, which main

factors should I be looking at to maintain the proper fat and protein ratio?

A: As most of you are probably aware the DFO has implemented a new policy whereby producers will see deductions immediately on their milk statements if their SNF ratio is above 2.35. In the past these deductions were made exactly the same, however producers had the ability to regain some of these deductions over the following months as long as it took place within the same dairy year. In very simplistic terms you will only see a payment reduction if either your fat test is too low or your fat and protein tests are too close together. When doing numerous calculations on what is exactly ideal it becomes very clear that the higher your butterfat is the less likely you will be in any penalty range. The moment your butterfat test falls below 3.7% it becomes very difficult to keep this correct ratio simply because your lactose and other solids really don’t change much with varying fat percentages. With the hot weather we have been experiencing this summer again it virtually becomes impossible for high producing dairy cows to not suffer from fat depression especially those herds milking 3X. So this then begs the question, is it really such a big deal if my butterfat drops for a month or two, or should we take some type of corrective action to keep this ratio at the correct level according to DFO standards. Even though this debate could be argued many ways, last summer’s experience of dealing with hot weather did teach us a number of factors that can be managed by most producers. First of all, keeping cows cool with lots of fans and added sprinkler systems sure does make sense. Secondly, making sure that our barns are not over-crowded and that we feed fresh feed several times throughout the day are also management factors. And thirdly, from a nutritional approach trying not to push too much starch into the cows during periods of heat stress is really important. Once again, from last summer’s experience we saw over and over again that the addition of some palm fat really made a difference. By adding a rumen stable fat high in palmitic acid, which is used to make more butterfat, we can add more energy to the ration and keep the cow healthier by not having to add more starch to the ration, thereby maintaining healthier rumen function. As a result, the butterfat stays higher which becomes a win-win situation for not only the cow, but also the producer wins by

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filling extra quota, and the DFO is now happy because our SNF ratio’s are better balanced. I would also like to add one additional comment. During the summer and fall periods we should not get too hung up on hitting high protein level targets in the milk. I know this doesn’t help to make nice BCA or production records, but ultimately the only ways we can keep protein levels high during this period of time is to push the cows with lots of corn starch which, in my opinion, is only harmful to keeping cows healthy or feed costly rumen protected amino acids. Once the cooler weather comes and new corn silage gets into the ration, protein levels usually start to climb back up again. n

2.0 Tonne Bulk Premix Bin


his simple, steel storage bin has been designed to hold over 2 tonnes of bulk premix allowing producers to enjoy both a bulk and volume discount on their premix orders. Each 2 Tonne bin will come complete with a front mounted ladder and tarp top to keep debris and farm animals out. This bin is to be kept covered in a commodity shed or in an ingredient storage room but can easily be set outside with a fork equipped loader tractor or skid steer for easy filling. Improve the ease of storing bulk premix on your farm with this inexpensive bulk premix bin from Grand Valley Fortifiers.





he protein market is still encouraging canola meal usage as it’s currently trading at a $200/mt discount to SBM. Even into new crop the spread is $125 continuing to encourage usage. Canadian canola 2012/13 ending stocks are projected to be adequate and increasing for the 2013/14 crop year end. For those that could have a use, both soy hulls and wheat shorts are becoming more readily available and have come down in price. There should be price opportunities for those with extra space. We’re coming up to scheduled maintenance time for ethanol plants and seeing availability start to tighten. I would encourage you to anticipate your needs if you’ll be requiring product over the next 5 weeks. If you are interested in receiving DSC’s commodity price indication updates, please contact or call 1-877-743-4412. n


SEPTEMBER 10–12, 2013 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


Come on out to the 20th anniversary of Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show! Grand Valley Fortifiers, Farmers Farmacy and Direct Source Commodities will all be onsite at the corner of Ninth Lane and Middle Machinery Mall. Our team looks forward to visiting with you so be sure to stop by and enjoy some delicious Canadian chocolate milk.

Thought for the Day “A Promise from a Godly Prophet”


Cubic Volume (not including the cone) 47˝L x 60˝W x 44˝H • 71.8 cubic feet • 2204.62 lbs/metric tonne Bulk Density

lbs./cu. Ft.



EcoLac Heifer




EcoLac Dry Cow




Milking Cow Premix




Purchase for $1,295.00 or finance for $54/month for 24 months

Blessed (is) the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and (that) spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 God Bless, Jim Ross and all the GVF family

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Dairy Grist 2013 - Fall  

Robolac • Calf Starter Options Explored • Birds, Birds, Birds • Main Proper Fat and Protein