Most of the updates made in the eighth revised edition of the Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle were minor; according to Bill Weiss from The Ohio State University, many of the changes were simply “tweaks” made to the previous recommendations.
“There are no major changes in how we feed cows,” Weiss said during the February Hoard’s Dairyman monthly webinar. “There are improvements, but not wholesale changes.”
Yet, those tweaks can make a difference. Weiss, who co-chaired the committee that completed this revision, shared some of the benefits the updated recommendations will provide.
For example, he said the new guidelines will improve efficiency without increasing the risk of deficiencies, helping farms overfeed less of certain nutrients. New protein and amino acid equations should provide more accurate valuations of protein and amino acid supplements, allowing farmers to get the biggest bang for their buck. In addition, more accurate recommendations will reduce the risk of metabolic disorders and acidosis.
These updated guidelines can help farmers and nutritionists feed cows more efficiently. Weiss pointed out, though, that striving for maximum efficiency of a nutrient is not a wise goal.
“The most efficient animal is an animal that is deficient,” he explained. “A deficient animal is going to use every gram of a nutrient it can.”
The problem with an animal facing a deficiency is that production is limited. For a dairy cow, that means less milk in the tank.
“Our goal is to be close to maximum efficiency but not at the maximum,” Weiss advised.
The updated Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle . . . or what some refer to as the 8th Dairy NRC . . . has been available since December. While the software can be downloaded for free, Weiss encouraged people to utilize the book as another resource. With more than 500 pages, the book can be purchased for about $150.
“The book is integral,” he said. “It will help explain situations not found in the software.”
Both resources can be found at https://nap.edu. Simply type “dairy” in the search box.