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Dairy Grist

VOL 12 ISSUE 1 | SPRING 2010

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


2010—CELEBRATING 50 YEARS By: Jim Ross

This is a very special year for Grand Valley Fortifiers as it was 50 years ago this last March that I, along with Irving Readhead, purchased the milling equipment from the old Bailey and Harisson feed mill on Ainsle St. in downtown (Galt) Cambridge. Over the next three months, this equipment was installed into an old barn which was converted into a little feed mill on the Clyde Rd. on the east side of Cambridge. The mill opened in June of 1960 and we named it Grand Valley Feed & Farm Supply. Initially, we marketed Purina feeds and supplements as well as a full line of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and most other supplies to the farmers in a 25 mile radius of Cambridge. These were very exciting days as our business increased with a growing clientele of customers who soon became our friends. The changes that have taken place over the last 50 years in agriculture have been enormous and so we have had to change with the industry. In the Fall of 1970, the little old mill was sold to a developer after which I became sole owner of our new company, Grand Valley Fortifiers Limited. We specialized in the manufacturing and marketing of vitamin mineral premixes for “on the farm” mixing of livestock feeds. Since that time, our business has continued to grow to cover all of Ontario, the Maritime provinces and Pennsylvania. Recently, we have been privileged to market our premixes overseas and are investigating dairy and poultry opportunities in new markets. Although very demanding, these are exciting days for all of us at Grand Valley Fortifiers.

to serve our customers with products and services which would provide “the best possible production at the lowest possible cost.” I am happy that not only do we have the finest staff that anyone could have, but that I have two sons who are committed to carrying on our dynamic business. Ian, my oldest son, is providing visionary leadership to our company while David provides leadership in marketing, information and communications technology in addition to retail oversight. Most of all, I thank the Lord for all that He has done for us over these past 50 years. It has been amazing to have seen how He has led and guided us, providing for all of our needs. It is my hope and prayer that Grand Valley Fortifiers will continue to provide products and services to our customers for many years to come, helping them meet and exceed their production goals. As a company we look forward to continuing to serve you. Personally, I have also been blessed with good health and as long as I am able, I will endeavor to make a meaningful contribution to the ongoing operations. Many thanks and may God bless you all. Join us to celebrate our 50th year on Saturday, August 28, 2010 on our premises at 486 Main. St. E., Cambridge, ON • More details will follow

Over these 50 years, we feel we have been extremely blessed to get to know and work with so many wonderful producers. We thank all of our customers for allowing us the privilege of serving them. None of what we have accomplished could ever have been done without the untiring efforts of a dedicated staff who have all worked hard

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

Ian Ross, President | Jim Ross, Chairman Clarke Walker, VP & COO Mark Bowman, Ruminant Nutritionist David Ross/Dan Goertz, Publishers


In this issue of the Dairy Grist, Steve McGuffin comments on the USD A supply and demand report for feed grains (of April 9/10) estimated ending stocks for this last crop year (August 31/10) would appear to be very adequate with little changes of shortages. However, growing crop conditions can change drastically. Its been several years since we experienced severe drought conditions across North America. This Spring is starting out great, with early planting and adequate subsoil moisture levels across much of the North American main growing areas. But we could get some surprises! I was alarmed a few weeks ago when I heard a news report of an outbreak of a plague of locusts in Wyoming devastating the countryside and consuming everything that is green. The report stated that the outbreak was so severe that these hungry insatiable insects were even eating clothes hanging on clotheslines! What would happen to our, at present, very adequate feed situation if this plague spread across the U.S. and Western Canada? Another fact I would like to share is the potential threat of severe inflation over the next several years. To try to fight the severe recession which is taking place in the United States, the Obama administration has been flooding the country with newly printed dollars—one year ago the amount of money circulating in the US was 1.1 trillion dollars. Today the amount of money circulating in the U.S. is now 2.2 trillion dollars. This could devalue the purchasing value of the U.S. dollar by half which means instead of $10.00/ bushel of soybeans we could see $20.00/bushel of soybeans, or instead of $3.50 corn, we could see $7.00 corn. The value of gold has increased by 25% in the last year and I believe other commodities will follow. Presently both corn and soybeans have just reached their spring high. We expect these two commodities to move to their summer low by the end of May/early June. Today we would recommend that producers book at least half their feed needs from October 2010 through until October 2011. Steve McGuffin of Direct Source Commodities would be happy to show you how you can tie down some of your feed inputs costs by pricing at least a portion of your feed ingredient costs for the next year. n


By: Steve McGuffin

Steve McGuffin

The USDA Supply and Demand Report was released on April 9, 2010 and showed corn ending stocks in line with trade expectations of 1.899 billion bushels which was an increase of 100 million bushels. World ending stocks for corn were increased by 4.05 million metric tonnes with 2.5 million metric tonnes coming from increased production in Brazil.

Soybean ending stocks were left unchanged at 190 million bushels which was in the lower end of trade expectations. World

soybean ending stocks increased by 2.29 million metric tonnes with increased production in Brazil and Argentina accounting for 1.5 million metric tonnes. The USDA left their estimate of Argentine production 0.5 million metric tonnes below the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange estimate. USDA ending stocks number for wheat was down slightly with world ending stocks decreased 0.95 million metric tonnes. USDA planting intentions are as follows:



March 2010 intentions









Total all crops



Looking at these planting intentions, the corn and soy acres planted tend to exceed the March intentions and as you can see, there are some acres unaccounted for that will probably be planted. New crop supply and demand figures are not released until mid May but some private analysts are projecting U.S. soybean ending stocks of over 400 million bushels and corn at over 2 billion bushels. As the U.S. farmer has started field work, the weather, corn demand for ethanol production and the value of the USD will be the major driver behind these new crop supply and demand projections. Looking at the balance of this crop year, crushers are unsure what soybeans are going to cost them as they are in tight hands and although there will be enough beans in North America to get us to new crop, logistics could be an issue getting them to the crushers. For example, in Ontario we ran out of crusher beans last year and there were exports out of Ontario last fall. Any downside futures potential may be partially offset with stronger basis as soybean producers may not be willing sellers at low levels. Wheat shorts pricing has recently pulled back due to the low price of canola meal relative to soybean meal which has increased canola meal usage and reduced the wheat shorts inclusion in some Canadian feed rations. Values of canola meal dropped following U.S. FDA import restrictions. The Canadian canola meal industry has made adjustments to meet the FDA standard but it will probably be late summer before canola meal moves freely into the U.S. again. If you would like to receive daily or weekly commodity/market reports from DSC, please contact Steve McGuffin at: n

ALTO FARMS – Great Cowman, Labour Saving Technologies and Great Results By: Dairy Sales Manager, Art Groenewegen

Art Groenewegen

On the border of Oxford and Elgin Counties lies Alto Farms, owned by Otto and Alida Zondag. Purchasing this 125 acre farm in 1988, Otto and Alida started out with 50 cows and an 18 litre milk average in a tie stall barn. Otto and Alida, along with their nine children, worked very hard to make continual improvements to the farm to support the family.

While all of the children have helped out on the farm, the Zondag’s youngest son Tony has come to the forefront as the cow man of the family, (now brother Peter does field work and repairs and sister Jenny helps out when Tony or Otto are off). Tony’s attention to detail and love for cows has allowed him to become very successful in managing the Alto cows. The Zondag’s became clients of Grand Valley Fortifiers in 2004, when they began using Reashure Choline. At that time, Tony expressed concern with low butterfat test results and loose cows with acidosis symptoms. Hearing his concern, we sampled his feeds and balanced a much different ration than what he was feeding, dramatically reducing the amount of protein and corn. Utilizing Grand Valley Fortifiers’ Eco Lac® CD-2 supplement and Eco Lac® premix with bicarb and yeast, the cows quickly responded with an increase in fat test and improved rumen health. Today, the Alto herd has yielded some very impressive results with their 70 cows. According to their DHI results, DHI milk averages of 38-42 standard milk on 2X milking, 4% butterfat test, and a 140-200 SCC. The Alto heard is the 7th highest in Canada for conformation improvement of the herds with 40-75 cows. Alto Farms is also consistently in the top of Oxford County for Herd Management score and an impressive 25%-28% pregnancy rate with a calving interval of 12.9 months. It has been gratifying to watch Alto Farms succeed with the many changes they have made on their operation. Great farmers and great cowmen, the Zondags’ made the following changes since 2005, which have all helped this herd achieve these great performance measures: 1. New 36 stall, 6 group heifer barn to improve growth rates of the 11-23 month old heifers 2. New wider, tie stalls with single head rail and Legend mats, for greater cow comfort 3. Processor on forage harvester 4. Hammermill to improve high moisture corn processing and utilization 5. Rovibec Feed System 6. New 24’ by 80’ tower silo for increased forage usage 7. An additional 18 tie stalls (in progress), with a goal of 90 kg quota from 72 tie stalls Of the changes made to the dairy, the installation of the Rovibec Feed System has been the most exciting. Ten years ago, Tony thought there must be an easier way for his Dad to feed cows. Feeding a TMR, with a power cart, Otto was spending approximately 3.5 hours a day, mixing and delivering feed six times a day from this small cart. Feeding was a big job for Otto and when Tony was on his own for milking and feeding, it took forever. (I often would share my observations about Alto Farms to other producers that they had no summer heat stress in his barn because of the tunnel ventilation and his six times a day TMR feeding. Their cows always maintained their high fat test and yield. Tony and Otto’s hard work was paying off.)

Tony continued to think of ideas to improve his workload. Enjoying a day at the Outdoor Farm Show, Tony once again saw the system he had been waiting for, one that could feed his cows for him. The Rovibec system would fill, mix and feed out his TMR automatically. This rail cart feeder will travel to the right silo or bin, turn the unloader or auger on, dispense the right amount of ingredient in the TMR rail cart mixer, shut the silo or bin off, mix the feeds and travel to the barn for individual dispensing of the TMR according to production level. The Rovibec also will open and close doors to allow the cart to enter the main barn, heifer barn or calf barn. Sound complicated? As Tony says, “the cows have always been fed and if there was a problem, it has been rectified quickly. We are still feeding cows six times a day – automatically.” This dairy technology is one that has saved Tony over 3.5 hours a day. This time savings allows him to focus on the finer details and keep the operation running with attention to detail. Cows love routine! With this system, the cows and heifers are always fed at the same time, no matter what is going on. By feeding consistantly and providing excellent cow comfort, it is a pleasure to see 90% of the cows laying down chewing their cud. “It is very nice to come into the barn at 4:30 am and see most of the cows up and eating because the cart just fed them”, says Tony. “The Rovibec system has been a great thing. We still spend many hours doing what’s best for our cows. Having happy and healthy cows makes working with them nice and enjoyable.” As many dairymen are looking at new technologies, one must ask if it is worth it. As Tony says, “the pay back is three years with this system from a labour saving basis. My cows are doing very well, fed consistently and in the first year with the Rovibec system, we had no displaced abomasums.” Being able to monitor intakes on his cows and adjust the amounts of TMR being fed to them has shown some surprising intakes. Tony states, “fresh two year olds will eat about 30 kg TMR (50% dry matter) and peak milk cows up to 60 kg TMR daily.” Tony has even seen

one of his top cows eating 72 kg of TMR daily. These intakes reflect the philosophy that a one group TMR is sufficient as cows will eat to their production level. They really do! Alto Farms uses Grand Valley Fortifiers products with great satisfaction. The milking herd is fed a TMR with BMR silage, haylage, high moisture corn, EcoLac® CD-2 supplement and EcoLac® premixes with Assure, yeast, bicarb and Monensin as additives. The dry cow programs have been working very well because of the consistent stress free environment that they live in along with BMR silage, haylage, dry cow hay, Leader close up Supplement and rumen stable choline – RCS Transition Supplement. The heifers, which calve out at less then two years of age are reared on haylage, BMR silage, dry hay, shell corn and Bionic® Pro Calf Supplement. With a continual high butterfat test, healthy cows and good service, Tony states, “we have no complaints with GVF.” The Zondags, like many dairymen today, are concerned about labour issues. Whether it is the amount of time dairymen spend on the job, how to attract and keep good help, and how much to pay their hired help, labour is a concern. As the dairy industry moves forward, these issues will become even bigger. The new technologies that our industry looks at will have these labour saving themes in mind. These technologies, like the one that Zondag’s have, allow dairymen to focus their time and energy on other aspects of their operation or of course with their families. As their Dairy Specialist, it is a pleasure working with the Zondag family. It will be exciting to work along with them in achieving their next set of goals. n

2010 WESTERN CANADIAN DAIRY SEMINAR PRACTICAL TIPS FOR BETTER PERFORMANCE Summary of: Nutrition and Reproduction Interactions in Dairy Cows Dr. Jo Leroy, University of Antwerp, Belgium • Modern dairy cows selected for high milk

yields display an absolute priority for their energy to be used for milk production in Mark Bowman the udder. • This major energy priority is at the cost of the cow’s own body reserves, resulting in loss of body condition and increased sensitivity to disease in early lactation. • The degree of body condition loss is strongly correlated with poor reproductive performance. • There is growing evidence that the same hormonal controls that enable high milk production and body weight loss also negatively affect the ovaries, uterus, egg quality and embryo quality. Understanding these controls can help us in managing transition cows more successfully. SUPPORT FOR MILK PRODUCTION • Milk production requires production of lactose (milk sugar) in

the mammary gland, demanding up to 4 kg of glucose per day. • Major reduction of insulin levels and increased growth hormone

(GH) levels orchestrate the priority of the mammary gland for glucose, at the expense of all other body tissues and organs. • The cow’s liver must manufacture the required glucose from pro-

Dairy Grist

pionate and amino acids because rumen microbes utilize most sugars and starch for their own needs, so that very little glucose is available to the cow from the feeds. • Other body tissues (example muscles) must rely on alternate energy sources to glucose. Hormonal changes (low insulin) promote the mobilization of body fat as non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) that can be used as energy by other body tissues and that pass to the liver and are processed there. • However, high NEFA levels quickly overwhelm the liver’s processing capability, resulting in ketosis and fatty liver and reducing production of glucose by the liver. REPRODUCTIVE CHALLENGES • Elevated GH (Growth Hormone) and associated low insulin and

glucose levels inhibit release of hormones required for normal follicle development and release of viable eggs from the ovary. • High blood NEFA results in elevated NEFA in follicular fluid with negative effects on follicle viability and function. These effects may extend to the oocyte and result in more early embryonic deaths. TRANSITION COW NUTRITION AND MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS Limiting the extent and duration of energy deficit and weight loss in early lactation cows is critical to re-establishing normal hormonal levels to support reproduction. Nutrition and management of transition cows is very important in this regard. • Avoid fat dry cows. Dry off and maintain cows at body BCS (Body

Condition Score) 3.0 (at most 3.3) as research has demonstrated less body weight loss in early lactation for lower BCS. This necessitates drying cows off before they get too much BCS and providing a bulky, low energy dry cow ration. • Avoid pen changes during the last 3 – 4 weeks before calving as these are associated with social and behavioural factors that reduce feed intake and increase weight loss in fresh cows. • Do not crowd transition cows! Provide at least 120 sq. ft. pen space and 2.5 ft. bunk space to transition cows. With free stalls, limit to stocking density to 80 – 90 percent. • Feed dry cows diets with high fibre, bulky ingredients (straw or grass hay) and very palatable, highly digestible ingredients such as corn silage and beet pulp to encourage intake and prepare cows for the lactation ration. • Dry cow rations must be balanced for protein requirements, minerals, vitamins and additives such as RS-2 Yeast to enhance feed intake and cow health. • Feed monensin to enhance propionate supply that can be converted to glucose in the liver. • Feed RSC Transition Dairy Supplement, containing Reashure Choline. Research trials, both university and commercial, have demonstrated that Reashure Choline enables fresh cows to better transport NEFA out of the liver for use by other body tissues. This results in reduced ketosis and fatty liver, improving liver function and glucose production. Research trials show that when Reashure Choline is fed to transition cows, higher peak milk production and significantly higher first service conception rates are achieved. n

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Dairy Grist 2010 - Spring  

Celebrating 50 Years • ALTO Farms • Practical Tips for Better Performance

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