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Nutrition and Requirements
  1. Alternative Feedstuff for Dairy
  2. Don't Overlook Water for Dairy Cattle
  3. Estimated Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF), Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF), and Relative Feed Value (RFV) in Preharvest Alfalfa
  4. Use Caution When Feeding Dairy Cattle
  5. Complete Dairy Ration
  6. Know Your Forages
  7. Water Quality: The Animal Component
  8. Corn Gluten Storage & Handling
  9. Corn Gluten Feed for Dairy Cattle
  10. Feeding and Managing the Transition Dairy Cow


J. W. Schroeder
Extension Dairy Specialist
NDSU Animal and Range Sciences
Last Updated: April 7, 1998

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Feed costs, the single largest expense in animal production, may be reduced by including locally and regionally grown crops and by-products into animal diets, especially for ruminants. Numerous by-products are produced in our region, but usage is sometimes limited due to poor understanding of their nutritional and economic value, as well as their proper use in dairy cattle rations.

The by-products of food and fiber are commonly referred to as "coproducts" because they have significant value as a feed, while lowering the cost of feed input. Since ruminants are essentially recyclers, the use of by-products (or coproducts) are particularly suited to dairy cattle that ultimately produce a high-quality product (milk) from the by-products of food, feed, and industrial processing that might otherwise be discarded as waste. So, environmentally, as well as economically, by-products will continue to become more important as ingredients in dairy cattle diets.

Although these unusual feeds may be available at reasonable prices, cost is not the only factor to consider. Animals sometimes react unfavorably to radical changes in feeds, no matter how good the new feed. Therefore, most uncommon feeds should be used with caution and introduced into the ration gradually, even when low prices favor their use. The nutrition value of the feed, its palatability, possible toxicity or contamination with pesticides or heavy metals, and the effects upon digestion and utilization of the total ration are factors that must also be carefully considered.

The potential incorporation of by-product ingredients into ruminant rations requires careful planning, evaluation, and study. Labor costs resulting from the use of unusual feeds can sometimes offset the lower feed prices. Furthermore, many by-products are not consistent in nutrient content due to different milling and processing procedures. In this case, it is important to purchase the feed and formulate rations on the basis of a guaranteed laboratory analysis of each lot of feed.

List of Abbreviations:

ADIN ­ acid detergent insoluble nitrogen; ADF ­ acid detergent fiber; AF ­ as fed basis; CP ­ crude protein; DM ­ dry matter; EE ­ ether extract (fat); Effectiveness Factor ­ fraction of NDF as compared to long forage (not chopped) which has a value of 1.0; NEL ­ net energy of lactation; NFC ­ non-fiber carbohydrates (starch source); NDF ­ neutral detergent fiber (from forage); TDN ­ total digestible nutrients; TMR ­ total mixed ration; RUP ­ rumen undegradable protein; UIP ­ undegradable intake protein.

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Animal Sciences Extension Service CAFSNR NDSU