Tight dairy margins elevate the need for dairy farmers to optimize animal performance and productivity at each stage of life. To learn about ways to improve their dairy business, more than 800 dairy farmers, family members and industry representatives representing more than 225,000 dairy cows attended the Leading Dairy Producer Conference in Wisconsin Dells, Wis. Purina Animal Nutrition and Land O'Lakes hosted the conference, partnering with other dairy industry leaders to bring the latest research and expertise to attendees.
"You only have one chance to get it right," says Dave LaCount, Ph.D., dairy nutritionist with Purina Animal Nutrition. "Each stage of growth and development is critical to the productivity of the dairy cow."
Several researchers spoke on the importance of feeding a dairy animal for performance and productivity at every stage of life. Debbie Haines, Ph.D., University of Saskatchewan, Jason Marish, DVM, United Veterinary Service, John Weber, DVM, Cashton Veterinary Clinic, and Jill Davidson, Ph.D, director of dairy research with Purina Animal Nutrition, focused on proper calf nutrition.
Calves from a Purina® AMPLI-CALF® Program feeding demonstration were on display at the conference to demonstrate the importance of early life nutrition and lifetime profitability. Calves were raised on 2.5 pounds of milk solids per day from day 1 through week 8. The liquid diet consisted of 2 gallons pasteurized milk and 0.5 pounds Pasteurized Milk Balancer.
From day three through week 12, calves were fed a seasonal formulation of Purina® AMPLI-CALF® Starter 22%, free-choice. At 13 weeks of age, calves received AMPLI-CALF® Grower feed free-choice up to 10 pounds per head per day, along with free-choice hay through 24 weeks of age. The following chart represents the growth from 12-24 weeks of age.
Average daily gain (ADG) for the two calves displayed was 2.88 and 2.82 pounds per day, respectively. These growth rates are representative of performance that Purina Animal Nutrition has seen with the Purina® AMPLI-CALF® Program. Further research on this sequential feeding program showed a production increase of 2,740 pounds of milk compared to calves fed an above average calf nutrition diet on the same farm.
In addition to a focus on calf nutrition, experts shared insights on furthering the milk production potential of the lactating herd. Sessions covered related topics, including everything from the effect chromium supplements can have on fertility to achieving high pregnancy rates in high producing dairy cows, and maternity pen design to genetically enhanced reduced lignin alfalfa – experts.
Investing in the next generation
Thirty-three college students attended the conference as part of an educational program supported by Purina Animal Nutrition. In addition to attending the conference, the program included farm visits, a hands-on nutritional audit project and a tour of the Purina Animal Nutrition Center in Gray Summit, Mo.
"We're proud to support the next generation of dairy experts and also bring the latest research to the industry through this annual conference," says Elena Lindemann, dairy marketing director with Purina Animal Nutrition. "While some cut costs to cope with current market conditions, progressive dairy farmers continue to look to technology to stay profitable."
For more information, go to: www.purinamills.com/dairy-feed.