Grouping Strategies for Feeding Lactating Dairy Cattle

V.E. Cabrera, UW-Madison Dairy Science


Sample Farm: Total Cows = 470

Tool Overview

This tool evaluates grouping strategies for feeding lactating dairy cattle. It uses different criteria to group cows, optimizes the cows belonging to a feeding group, suggests a group diet ration based on Net Energy (NEL, MCal/lb) and Crude Protein (CP, %), computes the expected Income Over Feed Cost (IOFC), and the additional economic benefits of feed grouping after additional costs of management, labor and an expected milk depression on lactating cows re-grouped.

A herd test file is needed to use the tool. This should contain information regarding Cow ID, Lactation, Days in Milk (DIM), Milk Produced, and Milk Fat Content. Optionally, for more accurate calculations, Body Weight (BW) could be added (if BW is not provided, the tool calculates BW based on lactation and DIM after a user-entered average BW for primiparous and multiparous cows). The tab with name upload farm details helps the user upload an excel file with those parameters. It is suggested to first download the parameters file to a local computer and then use this as a template to enter farm specific data. The tool will always indicate which file is being used. The number of lactating cows in the file will be automatically counted and displayed. Also in this tab the user defines indirectly the price of feed energy ($/MCal) and feed protein ($/ lb CP), which are based on nutritive content and prices of refereed feeds (Corn and Soybean meal). The user can over-write these calculated values, if desired.

Once the data have been entered, the user could move to the tab with name 'Group Cows'. This tab is self-explanatory and follows a decision tree structure to help the user analyze grouping strategies. After following the questions in the decision tree, the user could hit the 'Analyze' button and get the results in the 'Reap Benefits' tab. This last tab of the tool ('Reap Benefits') displays the economic benefit of different group strategies compared to the farm defined current strategy.



Acknowledgements


  • 64x64
    USDA - National Institute of Food and Agriculture
    This project is supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant No. 2011-68004-30340 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Prices
  CP% Nel, MCal/lb $/(Unit)
Corn ($/bu)
Soybean Meal ($/ton)
Please note that the values highlighted with this color will be used by the tool.
Calculated Values User Input
$/lb CP 0.452698
$/Mcal NEL 0.110497

Milk Price ($/cwt)




It had been found that the BW details for each cow has not been entered in the input spreadsheet.
Please enter the following details in order for it to be calculated automatically by the tool.

BW Primiparous (lb)
BW Multiparous (lb)

Download Parameter Excel File (xls or xlsx version)

Upload Parameters as Excel File


Current File/Data Status

Using Data from Default Parameters File on Server

Please answer the questions to begin analysis


Do you group and feed different diets to lactating cows?

    


How many groups can you handle and feed different diets to?
Two
Three
Four

Please enter the size of each group that you can handle.
Group Group1 Group2 Group3 Group4
Size

Please enter the CP and NEL values currently being used:
NE (Mcal NEL/lb)CP(%)

Additional cost (labor, management, and machinery) of feeding and grouping lactating cows into 3 groups instead of 1 ($/herd/month):

Estimate milk depression caused due to re-location of lactating cows :

Loss of milk production (lb/d):

Number of days the loss continues (d):

Would you save money because of using less feed addtives with more groups? If yes, how much would you save? $/herd/month


Press analyze to know the benefits of grouping.



What criteria do you use to group lactating cows?
CLUSTER
MERIT
DIM
FCM

Consider lactation 1 as a separate group?



How many groups do you have for your lactating cows?
Two
Three
Four

How many groups can you handle?
Two
Three
Four

Please enter the size of each group that you can handle.

GroupSize
Group1
Group2
Group3
Group4



What are the size and nutrients of your current groups?
Groups Size NE (Mcal NEL/lb) CP (%)
Total    
Group1
Group2
Group3
Group4


Additional cost (labor, management, and machinery) of grouping lactating cows and feeding($/herd/month):

Estimate milk depression caused due to re-location of lactating cows:

Loss of milk production (lb/d):

Number of days the loss continues (d):

Would you save money because of using less feed addtives with more groups? If yes, how much would you save? $/herd/month


Press analyze to know how you can gain more by grouping better.


Please use the 'Group Cows' tab to know the benefits of grouping cows.