A Little Bit of Everything

Dr. Allen Young
USU Extension Dairy Specialist

There are a lot of things that I think dairy farmers should be paying attention to right now. So I am going to combine several unrelated topics together into one article, and try to give you the �Readers� Digest version�.

National Animal ID

If you haven�t registered for your Premise ID, now is the time. This is going to be part of a major push in Utah for this coming year. You can log onto the Utah Department of Ag and Food web site and follow the links for Premise ID. There was a national meeting in September on the National Animal ID program, and the first of the take-home points is that the dairy industry has merged all of its different groups into one united front so that it can speak with a single voice on this program. The second point addresses who will be the keeper of the data. The National Cattleman�s Assoc. got the Secretary of Agriculture to approve private organizations as the data keepers. My sense is that many other groups want the government to keep the database. I�m not sure how it will turn out, but stay tuned for further information. You should be aware that it is now mandatory for producers in Wisconsin to register. It will come to everyone else soon. If you need help, such as obtaining a GPS reading for your facilities or where to get the forms, give me a call.

Air Quality Issues

You should also become familiar with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It �establishes a collaborative working relationship to develop and implement the Utah Animal Feeding Operation Air Quality Strategy. The purpose of the strategy is to gather air emissions information from animal feeding operations and implement programs to reduce emissions�. This will become a more important issue to the dairy farmers in Cache Valley because of wintertime inversions that cause harmful air pollution. There are groups that have been measuring ammonia levels during these inversions and have found them to increase significantly. These ammonia levels are part of the cause of this air pollution, and right now this group feels it is coming from the agricultural sector of this valley. In order to determine the sources of this atmospheric ammonia, sensors will be placed all over the valley this winter to determine �hot-spots�. I hope many of you will agree to help collect this data. It may mean the difference between being part of the solution or having a PR problem. Extension has agreed to be involved in this process.

Feeding Excess Protein in Rations

This final part goes hand-in-hand with the air quality issues noted above. Overfeeding protein, especially rumen degradable protein (RDP), can markedly increase the amount of ammonia available for release into the air. Overfed protein is not utilized by the cow and comes out in the urine and feces. Recent research from the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center in Wisconsin goes further, and states that the 2001 NRC requirements over predicted the requirement for RDP. Their research suggests that decreasing RDP by 1.7% and CP by 1.1% resulted in a reduction of urinary urea nitrogen (source of ammonia) by 20%, and furthermore resulted in a major increase in efficiency of conversion of ration protein to milk protein. This would be a win-win for everyone. I plan to address this topic more in the future, but for now, get your rations in order.

If you have any questions about any of these topics, please feel free to give me a call at (435) 797-3763 or e-mail at alleny@ext.usu.edu. ©