Eastern Dairy Grist - Winter 2022

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Dairy Grist


Dear Friends, As Christmas quickly approaches all of the Grand Valley Fortifers family members want to wish you and your family members a very blessed Christmas! Across the provinces and across the country, we had a very “interesting” growing season and thereby variable harvest in terms of quality and in terms of yield. In these days of expensive feed costs and regionally sparse and/or poor quality forages, we have included a number of articles centred around getting the most out of your feed/forages. With tight margins throughout the industry, formulators, feed specialists, and operators all need to think “precision feeding and management” and work closely together to capture as many savings and efficiencies as possible. I trust that the information that is shared within this edition of the Dairy Grist will bring opportunities for improvement top of mind and will result in more investigation and discussion with your Dairy Specialist and Nutritionist. As we near the end of 2022, I and all at the GVF group of companies family members are thankful for the opportunity to work so closely together with so many of Canada’s amazing dairy producers across this wonderful country. We count this a privilege and hold these relationships – many of which have existed for decades – as a rich blessing. Blessings on you, yours and your dairy operation in 2023! Sincerely, Ian Ross, President & CEO


by: NIKKI CAMPBELL Ruminant Nutrition, Grand Valley Fortifiers, Nutrition Direct


erforming routine Penn State Shaker Audit (PSPS) on your TMR is an excellent, efficient, and cost-effective bunk management tool. The goal of evaluating your feed program is to ensure that every mouthful of feed cows eat is the same all day and not sortable. The PSPS shaker box can be performed on any TMR or individual forage. A sample of 500 g allows the feed to be evaluated by moving it through the separator. Table 1 Shows Grand Valley Fortifiers recommendations for the division of material on each sieve using a 3 box system.) Table 1: Current GVF PSPS TMR Recommendations Recommendations Top






The material on the top two sieves represents the effective fiber in the diet. The top sieve contains the long-stemmed fiber that largely contributes to the rumen mat, is digested slowly, and what is needed for proper rumen function. It is important to note, that although long-stemmed material is extremely important for the creation of this mat and proper rumen function, that material should never be cut longer than half the cow’s muzzle - anything longer than this length increases sorting. The middle sieve represents shorter fiber particles, these shorter pieces contribute to the fiber mat, but are more easily broken down and digested. The bottom pan represents the finest particles, GRAND VALLEY FORTIFIERS PO Box 726 Cambridge ON N1R 5W6 1-800-567-4400 grandvalley.com

these are rapidly digested and used as a quick source of energy for the cow, and do not contribute to the fiber mat but necessary to keep up with energy demands of milk production. Currently, the NRC recommends a minimum of 25% NDF on a dry matter basis, with 76% of the NDF coming from forage. Chop length is very important to achieving NDF targets, a diet can contain adequate physically effective fiber, but because the forage is chopped so finely, it will not contribute to rumen health, and will have a negative impact on the gut microbiome. Ideally, a lower amount on the top sieve is recommended, this represents the most sortable portion of the diet. Current research is supporting a lower amount of material on the top sieve and maximizing the amount of feed on the middle sieve. Both the top and middle sieve will promote chewing and rumination and support a healthy rumen environment. If you do not have access to a PSPS shaker box, you can also look to your forage lab results. Increasingly, nutritionists are looking at the uNDF 240 hr number. This number gives us an idea of rumen fill and provides an indication of how much forage the cow can eat before she is full. The lower the uNDF240 number, the better. As the number decreases, this represents an opportunity for increased intake of forages. Higher forage rations are always preferred for cow health! It is important to have the proper amounts of material on each sieve, an imbalance can lead to rumen upset. For example, a lack of effective fiber can lead to ruminal acidosis, with not enough fiber present in the diet to produce an adequate fiber mat. A reduction in chewable fiber or “chew factor” leads to a lower amount of saliva produced and material moving more quickly through the rumen, all equating to lower buffering capacity and feed not being fully digested. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if there is too much material on the top sieve, this can lead to excessive sorting and the potential for slug feeding. Sorting occurs when cattle move around their feed to sift out the concentrates to get to the “goodies” first. This doesn’t mean that they will not eventually eat the longer Ian Ross, President & CEO | David Ross, VP & CMO Mark Bowman | Jeff Keunen | Lisa McGregor | Kathleen Shore, Ruminant Nutritionists Curtis Ebanks, Layout Editor

stemmed particles but often it is the cow last to the feed bunk that will eat it out of desperation. This is when we see manure inconsistencies in the barn. When concentrates are consumed first, rumen pH is negatively affected and proper digestion is inhibited, leading to inadequate nutrient absorption, potential rumen acidosis, and a reduction in milk production. When should you speak with your nutrition advisor about running a PSPS shaker box or conducting a full TMR audit? 1. A large change in forage proportions has happened. 2. You are switching into a new cut of forage. 3. The cows appear to be consuming less feed or there are more leftovers than usual. 4. You are noticing loose manure, undigested feed particles in the manure or a change in milk production or fat. Your dairy specialist will be able to determine what the best course of action is. If you are looking to check your TMR to ensure that the proportions of fiber are meeting GVF recommendations, your rep can take samples from the beginning, middle and end of the bunk to get an average of the mix. If you are looking for a full TMR audit, this consists of taking 10 samples along the bunk as the feed is being delivered to allow your advisor to determine if there are any inconsistencies in the mix. A consistently mixed TMR should look like Graph 1 i.e little variation in the feed delivered along the bunk and a uniform mix. Graph 2 shows an inconsistently mixed TMR leading to inconsistent intake across the herd.

Potential causes for an inconsistent mix include weigh scales off calibration, order of mixing, forage chop length, sharpness of knives, and amount of time spent mixing. It is also good practice to take a sample of leftover feed and perform a PSPS shaker box on this as well. Comparing leftover feed to fresh feed shows if any additional sorting is occurring. There should be minimal differences between the distribution of materials from the fresh and leftover shaker boxes. PSPS audits can also be done on individual forages during harvest while feed is being chopped, so that any changes to the chop length can be made while the feed is being ensiled. The Penn State shaker box is a great economic tool that producers or their dairy specialists can routinely perform on farm. High forage diets, high forage intake and increased dry matter intake are key factors in optimizing milk production and reducing purchased feed costs on farm. Ensuring that your TMR is mixed uniformly is the easiest and quickest way to ensure that your cows are consuming a properly mixed ration thus optimizing herd performance.


by: TOM BOWMAN Dairy & Beef Specialist Grand Valley Fortifiers

It is no question that dairy producers are always looking for ways to increase production and revenue while also looking to cut costs where they can, whether it be through adopting new tech-

nologies, changes to barns and equipment, or trying new practices on their farm. One practice that producers are increasingly using is to breed with a beef sire to produce a dairy-beef crossbred calf. Producers have taken a liking to this for multiple reasons; the first being that they can improve the genetics of the herd by using a beef sire on the lower producing cows and using dairy sires on their higher producing cows to only keep heifers from their higher end cows. The next reason is that they can produce a crossbred calf that can be sold for beef with a premium over a straight dairy bull calf. Producers are also able to reduce the number of heifers they are raising which can reduce overall farm feed costs. While the dairy-beef cross presents a great opportunity for producers, there are some considerations which they should consider to make sure that they are getting the most out of the crossbred calves, while also providing a quality product for the next person in the supply chain. The three most important things for dairy producers to think about when it comes to the dairy-beef cross include the marketing and end user, breeding and genetics, and management of the calves. The first decision which needs to be considered is what the marketing strategy and who the next user of the calf is. There are many options that producers can choose from to market their crossbred calves. The first is to sell the calf at a few days old either directly to another producer or through an auction mart. Marketing calves through an auction mart can be helpful for determining a price while marketing directly to another producer gives the opportunity to develop a breeding and management program that calf buyers could be willing to pay a premium for. A second option is to raise the calves to a point where they are weaned and can be sold to a cattle feeder to go directly onto feed. This can give dairy producers an opportunity to raise the calf through the most vulnerable period of life and sell a larger calf at 200+ lbs. A third option producers have is to raise the crossbred calves to up to a finished weight and market them as finished beef either through an auction mart, directly to a harvest facility or sell freezer beef. When doing this, producers are able to produce a finished animal and capture the full margin of feeding the calves. Producers who choose this route should think about the feed and barn space they have available, the labour required and what nearby markets are easily accessible. When considering which beef bulls to use on dairy cows producers should keep in mind the characteristics which will provide the highest value of a finished beef animal. The preferred beef traits are a black hided, polled steer with similar yield and grade to a conventional type beef animal. Some of the breeds to consider can include Angus, Simmental, Limousin, Hereford and Charolais, keeping in mind that there is almost as much genetic variability within the breeds as there is across the breeds. Some expected progeny differences (EPD’s) to look at in selecting a sire are calving ease, hip height, carcass weight, rib eye area and marbling. When crossbreeding Holsteins which have a large frame we are trying to get a smaller framed calf with a more moderate rib eye area and higher marbling quality, whereas in breeds like Jerseys which marble very well we are focusing more on getting a higher yielding carcass with a larger rib eye area. In instances where producers are marketing calves directly to another farmer it would be worthwhile to work with them to select sires which have the best characteristics for them, otherwise it is good to work with a specialist to determine which sires will work best on their farm. With respect to managing the calves it is important to keep in mind what will provide value for the next user. Proper management of the calves will lead to less disease issues and will help the calf transition onto feed as seamless as possible. Early life care and management needs to be similar to what producers are already doing for dairy heifer calves. Calves should get a proper amount of colostrum as quickly as possible, separated from the cow and administered any vaccines. They should also be castrated and dehorned within a few weeks of birth. Calves can be fed

Dairy Grist a milk replacer or whole milk in a similar program to dairy heifer calves. Beef crossbred calves should begin to be weaned at 40 days old and should be completely weaned at 60 days. Following weaning, the dairybeef crossbred calves should be fed a calf ration with adequate fibre and protein levels up to 300 lbs body weight at which point they can then be transitioned to a more typical beef feeding program. It is important to communicate with the next user, veterinarian, and nutritionist to develop a management and feeding program that is the best fit for your farm. Overall using beef on dairy is an exciting opportunity for producers to reap the benefits of what could be considered a by-product of producing milk. However, producers should make sure to look at how they are marketing their calves, which sires they are using, and how they are managing the calves. By evaluating what they are currently doing producers can make changes to develop a program that will provide a quality product for the next user and generate the best return for their calves.

occur. Resampling your corn silage several months after ensiling is a great way for your dairy advisor to make adjustments based on the changing starch digestibility.

with JEFF KEUNEN Ruminant Nutrition, Grand Valley Fortifiers, Nutrition Direct



s we wrap up our field work and take stock of our crop year in 2022, most producers can be heartened with enough forage inventory to feed their livestock for another year. Early dry conditions allowed for many seeds to get in the ground in good time to allow for the full summer to give us growing degree days for our annual crops. Unfortunately, for many in western Ontario corn plants that looked so good in May started to look very stressed, wilted and stunted as they neared tasseling. Thankfully, many areas that needed it, started to receive some critical rains in August to save their cropping season. Rains, as they seem to be in recent years, were very localized and intermittent, so while some farms started to flourish once again, others were left to scramble to make enough feed for their cattle in the year ahead. August and September rains allowed the corn plants to make decent sized cobs that when harvested along with the shorter than average corn plants, made for high starch corn silage tests. It was not unusual for producers to see 40%+ starch on their corn silage analyses, with average to above average NDF digestibility values. The localized weather conditions that kept moisture levels at very different amounts, meant that we saw one of the longest corn silage harvesting seasons in recent memory. Corn silage harvest started as early as Labour Day weekend and continued well into October. While overall tonnages were down for many, the quality of the silage has allowed for high forage diets to be formulated this fall with the new crop corn silage. The general trend of the new crop corn silage that we are seeing is, milk volumes depressed slightly while fat tests have increased, suggesting that the high levels of starch in the silage are not fully available to the cow yet. Research has shown that as the corn silage ferments, starch digestibility will increase until it reaches its’ maximum digestibility about 6 months after ensiling. Keeping that in mind as the Winter progresses into Spring, producers should be able to feed more of their high-quality silage and less concentrate to maintain their milk and butterfat production. In the summer months, producers should be aware of the high rate of starch digestibility in their fermented feeds and make necessary adjustments to avoid the summer fat test slump that may

On a mycotoxin level, wheat, corn silage and early dry corn results have been very positive. The vast majority of samples returned to Grand Valley have shown to be very low in mycotoxin levels with the running average below 1 ppm for corn silage and dry corn results. The OMAFRA early harvest survey of corn fields confirmed these results with 88% of their samples testing below 0.50 ppm and nearly 98% of the corn testing below 2.0 ppm for deoxynivalenol (DON). As always, there are certain areas or farms that do see significant levels of DON in their grain crops, so it is always a good idea to test your own crops to confirm whether your diets need added mycotoxin protection.


by: MIKE RUTHERFORD Dairy Specialist Grand Valley Fortifiers


Why has Dairy Farmers of Ontario begun reporting farm values for Free Fatty Acids in milk bulk tank samples? A: Recently DFO has begun testing bulk tank samples from all Ontario dairy farms, looking for herds with elevated levels of Free Fatty Acids (FFA) in their milk. Elevated levels have been shown to present issues in cheese production, prevent milk from frothing, and therefore create consumer dissatisfaction in their dairy products. When diet related, it can also have a negative impact on cow health. Low levels of FFA in the milk are normal. The typical range is from 0.5-1.2 mmol/100g of fat. Values above this are considered to be elevated and should be addressed. Q: What is a Free Fatty Acid? A: Milk Fat is made by the cow using two methods: 1) fibre digestion in the rumen which makes Acetate, a building block of milk fat, and 2) in the mammary gland by a process called denovo fat synthesis. This milk fat is typically a triglyceride meaning 3 fatty acids linked together by a backbone. Under normal circumstances this fat is protected by a membrane and stays in the milk as a “fat globules” which will rise to the top if milk is not agitated or homogenized. Free fatty acids are generated when this chain of 3 fatty


acids are broken apart into single fatty acids. This happens for a variety of reasons including natural breakdown (called lipolysis) as well as mechanical or chemical breakdown. Q: My herd FFA levels are elevated. Where should I start looking to make improvements? A: The causes of high FFA levels are not completely understood and most research has been observational. However some trends have emerged that can help with early diagnoses. With regards to diet, high dietary fat supplementation (such as high palm fat levels) has been shown to make larger fat globules that are more prone to breakdown. Improperly balanced diets, such as low energy or protein levels have also been linked. It’s important to make sure cows have 24/7 access to a high quality, balanced diet. Empty feed bunks have many negative effects on the cow and milk fat production. Milking equipment has also been shown to break down fat into FFAs by mechanical methods. Improperly sized pipelines, improper slope, or too many units can lead to elevated levels. Extended pumping (like receiver jar pumps and milk truck pumps) and long agitation can also break down fat globules into FFA. High bacteria levels in pipelines or bulk tanks elevated FFAs because bacteria make an enzyme called Lipase that breaks down the triglycerides. Often these systems can be readjusted with minimal cost. For example if slow cooling of the milk is an issue, a plate cooler can help to drop the milk temperature quickly reducing agitation time. Warmed water 2 0 wash 2 2 water, or fed to the can be used to decrease energy cost of heating cows for increased water consumption around milking times. Q: Why should I make improvements to reduce FFA? A: While there are no current penalties for having high FFA levels, as Dairy Producers we should all be making continual improvements to our operations yearly to ensure the Consumer has access to the highest quality 100% Canadian dairy products available. We will be under increasing scrutiny by media and the public perceptions going forward, and we will need to rise to meet ever increasing expectations.

JOIN US A N D IN WELCOMING OUR N ENEW W YSPECIALIST E A R ’S TO OURSTEAM! C H E DU L E Thank you for your business in 2022. We are pleased to share the news that Chris DeKlein has joined our team of Dairy Specialists. Chris is originally from Middlesex County where he was heavily involved with 4-H clubs. He and his wife now reside in Elgin county and will be covering the western part of the province as a Dairy Specialist.

Having spent several years travelling across Canada as a classifier and Pro Dairy Support Specialist Action auditor, Chris has evaluated and appreciated hundreds of dairy operations and thousands of dairy cows during his tenure at Holstein Canada. With a tremendous knowledge and appreciation for cows, dairy producers and the dairy industry, Chris has passion that will serve him and dairy producers well. CHRIS DEKLEIN

Chris is excited to work closely with producers in his new role and he will use his strong skills in customer service and support in combination with cow sense to listen, evaluate and diagnose the situation on farm for our dairy producers. Whether you are looking forward to a friendly visit to chat about cows or looking to dig deeper into your cows’ performance or the cost to produce milk, Chris is eager to visit producers and help you achieve your goals. Please help us welcome Chris and feel free to reach out to him in his new role.

Chris can be reached at:


We’ve heard from you.

Simplified Pricing Coming In February 2023. In an effort to reduce our customers’ costs, as well as time and effort spent on paperwork, we will begin embedding our 3% Cash Discount into our premix, supplement and nursery feeds pricing starting on Feb. 1, 2023. This means the prices of these products will be lowered by 3% and the cash discount note at the bottom of our invoices will be removed. Discounted prices. Simplified Paperwork. Easier accounting for your farming operation.


Dear Friends


In order to help us provide you with the best service possible during the holiday season, please be advised of the days we’ll be closed.






JAN. 02

JAN. 03, 2023

Order early to ensure you don’t run out. DEC. 27







Thought for the Day

Prepare Him Room

“Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in his name, He gave the right to become children of God.(John 1:12) When Christ was born on this earth 2000 years ago, there was no room for Him at the inn. Instead, he was born in a stable among the animals, that as farmers, we’re all so familiar with. However, it was Jesus’ sacrificial love to all mankind that “made room” for you and me to have access to the Father. Through His birth, death, and resurrection He made room for all who believe in His name and receive Him to become children of God. This Christmas season, have you prepared Him room? Don’t miss out on the best gift of all!

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