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- January 1, 1997 - December 31, 2013
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impact statement impact
- This work has resulted in updated approaches to raising calves that has the potential to improve milk production by over 3,000 lbs in the first lactation and up to 9,000 lbs over the life of the animal. This is a 12 to 14 percent increase in first lactation milk production, which results in a similar increase in revenue generated from the increased sale of milk. If implemented on dairy farms, this would increase the efficiency of milk yield per cow, theoretically reducing the number of cattle needed and improving the environmental impact of milk production.
impact statement issue
- Replacement of dairy cattle is the second highest cost of production on the dairy farm. Traditionally, dairy calves are viewed as a cost center, not a profit center, and management applied to calves is traditionally focused on survival and not productivity. Further, management of calves the last 30 years was focused on early weaning to reduce calfhood disease, but current data suggest this management approach did not decrease sickness and death loss. Further, more recent data suggested that enhanced milk or milk replacer intake prior to weaning enhanced the ability of calves to be more efficient throughout their lives.
impact statement response
- We have developed nutrient requirements and an associate feeding strategy that enhances lifetime productivity of dairy calves. Further, we have learned that colostrum status—not immunoglobulin levels, but other factors in colostrum—are responsible for altering feed efficiency in dairy calves and subsequently future milk yield. In addition we have learned that there is a multiplicative effect of nutrient intake in the first 42 to 49 days of life on long-term productivity. In our data, on average, for every unit of gain (pound) per day prior to weaning, we can measure 1,500 lbs more milk in the first lactation. We have further information that demonstrates this effect is measurable into the third lactation, meaning it is a lifetime response due to pre-weaning nutrition and management. The observed milk response to enhanced nutrient intake is four to eight times greater than the difference in milk production from the genetic selection for milk yield per generation. This has resulted in changes in calf raising in NY and the U.S. and new strategies to improve early life management. The target audience is the dairy industry of New York and North America, and we have achieved this by providing the appropriate type of information and helping companies that manufacture milk replacer alter their formulas to match this response in calves. This has also impacted dairy farm decision making because they now recognize investment in the neonatal period has a postive economic impact for the dairy. Finally, companies interested in the concept of nutrition, management and neonatal programming are investing in new research strategies to understand how to maximize this long-term response.
impact statement summary
- We have demonstrated that early life nutrient intake and growth rates prior to weaning have a developmental effect on the calf that results in greater milk yield over the life of the animal once they calve and start to lactate. The impact is equal to and up to 8 times greater than the productivity impact of greater genetic selection for milk yield. Further, in collaboration with colleagues, we were able to demonstrate that pre-weaning growth rates accounted for up to 22 percent of the variation in first lactation milk production. This is a significant finding and one that provides us with a new direction and with profound implications for early life management of calves and heifers. Early life nutrition and management has a significant impact on life-time productivity.
- Both Basic Research and Applied Research
- Van Amburgh, Mike Associate Professor