Using coproducts: Not a ‘one size fits all’ situation

Posted on September 29, 2011 in Dairy Performance
By Spence Driver The theme of high feed costs is not breaking news – we’ve been dealing with it for quite some time.  That certainly pushes us to take advantage of lower-priced coproducts whenever possible. In the Midwest, we’re fortunate in that we do have easy access to coproducts.  The Midwest is the center of the milk processing industry with the largest concentration of cheese plants compared to other regions of the country.  In fact, 90 percent of Wisconsin milk goes into cheese production.  Similarly, the Midwest is the center of the corn processing industries.  The area is home to corn processing plants that produce ethanol, corn oil and corn sweeteners, using both the wet and dry milling processes. Now here’s the catch: Just because we have easy access to the coproducts doesn’t mean they’re easily added into every diet every time.  That’s because we see a lot of variation in nutrient values of coproducts from plant to plant and coproduct to coproduct.  You can see why that’s a problem when we’re seeking consistency in the diet and other areas of the operation.  Depending on where you’re getting the coproducts, what works for your friend the next town over may not be the same formula used on your farm.  We cannot rely solely on book values when incorporating coproducts into diets.  Routine analysis is recommended due to the variation that exists. Here’s a good example shared by Eric Schwab and Darin Bremmer in the Aug. 10, 2010 edition of Hoard’s Dairyman:  “Depending on how much water is evaporated off, whey permeate or delactosed permeate will range in solids (dry matter) from 22 to 36 percent.  Solids must be high enough to obtain a reasonable feeding rate.  If the solids level is low, you’ll have to feed a lot to significantly impact the diet nutritionally, and the TMR will become excessively wet.” The key here is to work with your nutritionist to have a good handle on the nutrient levels of the specific coproducts on your farm.  Remember that you’ll need to reanalyze the coproduct from time to time to ensure that you’re consistently feeding the optimal diet your cows need to meet production goals. For more details on coproducts sources and variation in nutrient levels, check out these technical bulletins on Cheese Manufacturing Coproducts and Corn Coproducts.

Category: Dairy Performance
Feed additives
Feed quality and nutrition