Vita Plus

By: Vita Plus  09-12-2011

Vita Plus Challenges & Solutions Resource Tool

Here are a few seasonal challenges that we often help our customers address.

This is a short list. We understand that many different challenges can come up every day on today's operations. Our Vita Plus consultants can work with you to address those challenges and identify solutions to improve productivity and your profitability.

Dairy

Swine

Forages

Beef


Before you even consider the best price to lock in your milk, you need to have a starting point of what your costs are. Know your cost of producing one hundred pounds of milk. Feed is a large expense and needs to be a focal point. Other inputs should be factored in as well. Once the cost is known, you can project your cost for a time period in the future. With that information in hand, start looking at futures milk prices that coincide with the same period.

The goal is to see what feed cost can be locked in and then what milk prices can be locked in to establish a margin. If you can secure a $2 or $3 margin and are satisfied with the marginal profit, this should result in a positive transaction.

For more information, check out the resource below or contact your local Vita Plus representative. Consultants have spreadsheets and that can assist producers in determining the cost of producing milk.

Resource:


The business of milking cows requires a great deal of invested capital. Owners must manage production, cow comfort and crops - and of course maintain profitability. During turbulent times of high input costs and low milk prices, you must revisit long term goals with an immediate action plan.

In order to cash flow a dairy farm in these times, clear communication with your lender is essential. Get a firm understanding of your financial status and then set up a meeting to discuss your plans. Furthermore, don't forget the value of increased efficiency during turbulent times. Look at your operation and troubleshoot the areas where you can save time and money. For more details, check out the two resources below and visit with your Vita Plus consultant for assistance.

Resources:


This can be an important economic loss. Available evidence suggests that a fat test depression is generally caused by changes in the rumen environment which subsequently affect milk fat synthesis. Some things to check include:

  • Too much vegetable oil in the diet
  • Too much grain or fermentable carbohydrate
  • Particle size of diet too small
  • Not enough dietary fiber to slow passage rate

Troubleshooting a fat test problem may be as simple as changing one thing in the ration, but typically more complex interactions occur. For example the effect of any of the above parameters may be increased by the inclusion of Rumensin in the diet. It doesn't mean Rumensin caused the problem, it just made the problem a little worse. Genetics and heat stress can be involved as well. Your Vita Plus dairy consultant can assist you in evaluating your situation to determine the best action plan.

Resources:


In component pricing of milk, generally the protein component is very valuable, so even a 0.1 percent improvement pays big dividends in the milk check.

In order to maximize the milk protein content a few dietary items that deserve consideration include:

  • Keep ration fat levels in check
  • Make sure there is enough degradable protein and carbohydrates for maximum microbial growth in the rumen

However, the balance of individual amino acids is just as important as the total amounts. Vita Plus is a leader in this technology. Your Vita Plus dairy consultant has the knowledge and computer tools to evaluate the methionine and lysine status of your ration and make recommendations to improve your protein test by adjusting the dietary amino acids.

Resources:


Weather conditions during the growing and harvesting season or improper storage of harvested feeds can lead to the formation of molds. Under certain conditions, molds can produce mycotoxins. Just because you have molds does not mean mycotoxins are present. On the other hand a small amount of mold could produce substantial amounts of toxins. The only way to know for sure if mycotoxins are a problem in your feeds is to test. Certain laboratories specialize in these types of analyses. Proper sampling is essential. If you suspect a problem, we suggest that you contact your Vita Plus dairy consultant for assistance.

Resources:


Summer heat hurts milk production and breeding success. In extreme cases, it can kill cows. Your heat stress plan should be developed well before the summer season arrives. Consider the following components of a good heat-stress management plan:

  • Start with shade
  • Keep air moving with the right configuration of fans
  • Use water applied to cattle with sprinkler systems to help dissipate body heat
  • Monitor the ration - adjusting potassium and buffers may be helpful
  • Provide plenty of clean, fresh drinking water

Your Vita Plus dairy consultant can assist you with more details on each of these strategies to limit your summer heat losses.

Resources:


Reproductive management is not easy. It is complicated by the many factors which all interrelate to determine if and when that cow becomes pregnant and delivers a healthy calf. One expert divides the factors into man factors, cow factors, and herd factors.

The largest component of variance between herds relates to the man factors. These include:

  • Heat detection - efficiency and errors
  • Inseminator skill
  • Fertility of AI bull
  • Semen storage and handling
  • Environment - heat stress, footing etc.
  • Nutrition

The cow factors include the health status, vaccination status, and genetics. The herd factors include age and milk production status.

For a reproductive program to be successful all of these factors must be acceptable. Through records analysis and personal observations, your Vita Plus dairy consultant can help you zero in on the most limiting steps in your program. The consultant can explain many of the new tools available to help in your efforts to optimize the breeding performance of your herd.

Resources:


The decision to feed milk replacer or whole milk should largely be made on the economics and adaptation to your operation. For most operations that have minimal amounts of non-saleable milk, it makes sense to use a milk replacer. On the other hand, there are situations where feeding whole milk makes economic sense. The practice of feeding raw milk to calves is discouraged because of the potential for disease transmission. Pasteurization of milk on commercial dairies and calf ranches reduces that disease potential.

So before investing in a pasteurizer consider:

  • Installation requirements
    • hot water heater
    • water supply
    • electrical
    • space
  • Installation cost
  • Labor available to use and clean the equipment
  • Variable cost to run the equipment
  • Service
    • Is the equipment reliable?
  • Who will monitor the performance?
  • Will you supplement with added vitamins, trace minerals or antibiotics?

The calf experts at Vita Plus are available to help you evaluate your situation. We have experience with many different calf operations to help give you the answers you need for your situation.

Resources:


You understand the importance of managing feed costs in today's dynamic markets. To minimize costs without sacrificing nutritional value, review feed manufacturing procedures, monitor the feed particle size, check for availability of alternative ingredients, and revisit and update your current feed budgets. Your Vita Plus Swine Consultant can help you work through this process, offer the latest in industry research and help you make the best decision for your operation.

For more information about managing your feed costs, check out these resources:


When pigs are not performing to what is considered normal, it is important to first identify the possible causes to why they are not performing well before a course of action can be implemented. For example, pigs that are not eating may be an indication of any of several factors such as mycotoxin contamination, heat stress, disease, or simply a poorly formulated diet. Vita Plus consultants can assist you with identifying potential causes and help with determining the best course of action (i.e. contact your veterinarian, submit feed samples, etc.)

For more information about mycotoxin problems, check out these resources:


For more information about managing your feed costs, check out these resources:


Web based nutrition modeling and feed budgeting program

One of the greatest disappointments and sources of economic loss on a dairy farm today is to discover that a bunker, silo, bag or pile is causing poor production performance as a result of poor fermentation. Forage moisture, density, color, odor, texture and the appearance of mold or slime, are all good clues that something went wrong. Low milk production, low intake and certain metabolic disorders such as ketosis can also be good qualitative signs of fermentation problems. But to be certain, and to quantify the degree of fermentation challenge, lab analysis is necessary. Your Vita Plus consultant can offer advice for the most accurate analysis, interpret the results, and help solve this problem quickly and prevent it in the future.

To learn more about forage quality testing, check out these resources:


The term "mold" is used to define thousands of species of fungi, many of which are present naturally in the environment. While many molds themselves are benign and are actually used in beneficial ways, other molds can produce mycotoxins which may be harmful. Mold contamination can occur at many stages from planting to feed-out. Several requirements are key in reducing mold growth, including a nutrient source, oxygen, moisture, proper pH and proper temperature. Proper storage of your high moisture feeds is crucial in preventing mold growth:

  • Oxygen Removal - oxygen-limiting structures should be checked for leaks. When using bunker silos and bags, removal of oxygen through use of proper packing and covering techniques is critical.
  • Moisture - While molds need moisture to grow, so do the beneficial bacteria that are responsible for proper fermentation. Ensiling feedstuffs at the proper moisture content along with oxygen removal will ensure maximum production of natural fermentation acids that will lower silage pH and inhibit mold growth.
  • Temperature - Molds need warmth to grow. Ensuring adequate feed-out rates will prevent mold and yeast growth at the silage face. Likewise, use of proven bacterial inoculants can help stabilize feeds at feed-out.
  • Inoculants - When applied properly, use of proven inoculants chosen for your feeding situation can help reduce mold formation and spoilage losses.

To learn more about molds, mycotoxins and forage spoilage, check out these resources:


Feeding mold-contaminated feedstuffs can have a myriad of negative and often long-lasting effects on animal health and productivity at all stages of production. While the molds themselves may not always be a problem, the mycotoxins produced by the molds often will be. Solutions include:

  • Complete removal - This is the preferred, though likely least enjoyable, solution. Whether in vertical structures or bunker silos, removing moldy feed with a pitchfork or shovel and disposing of it is the best strategy.
  • Dilution - If other complementary feedstuffs are available and if contamination is not severe, diluting the contaminated feed with clean feeds may be helpful.
  • Mold and mycotoxin binders - Several products are available that have proven some efficacy in binding mycotoxins.

To learn more about molds, mycotoxins and forage spoilage, check out these resources:


It's simple. If you're animals aren't growing, you're losing profits. Poor performance can be due to many things, including unbalanced diets and environmental conditions. Vita Plus beef specialists will analyze your cattle through direct farm visits. We cater our recommendations to best fit your herd and facility.


Many factors influence an animal's feed intake. Feed quality, bunk management and the environment all play a role. If an animal isn't eating enough, it's not performing at an optimal level and your profits fall. Vita Plus beef specialists will analyze your cattle through direct farm visits. We cater our recommendations to best fit your herd and facility.


The truth is no one growth implant is best for all cattle. When picking an implant, you must consider the breed, age and genetics of your cattle, as well as the feedstuffs and marketing program you use. Choosing the right implant based on these factors will increase performance, feed efficiency and growth. Vita Plus beef specialists are very familiar with a wide variety of growth implants and can work with you to decide which is best for your farm.


In an industry with dynamic grain markets, you want to give your cattle the highest quality feeds with the lowest costs. Although corn co-products can be helpful in lowering your costs, they also require you to balance your rations differently. This ensures that your feed is still high in nutrient value. Your Vita Plus beef specialist will assist you in evaluating your co-product options and choosing the right products for your cattle and facility.


Before you switch to a new feed, you want to know what that feed is really worth. You don't want to compromise nutritional value for a cheaper price. Your Vita Plus beef specialist will sample the feed, determine its nutrient content, and help you create the most economical rations for your herd.


Manure consistency is the easiest way to assess the condition of an animal's digestive tract. Loose manure can be a sign of inconsistent intakes, poor processing, low roughage content, or infection. No matter what the cause, loose manure results in lowered performance and profit loss. A Vita Plus beef specialist will work with you, step by step, to identify the problem on your farm and help you correct it as quickly as possible.


Reproductive management is the most critical aspect in determining cow herd profitability. Knowing this, a variety of factors go into reproductive success, from nutrition to body condition scoring to bull fertility. Through records analysis and personal observation, your Vita Plus Beef Specialist can help you zero in on the most limiting steps in your program. The specialist can explain many of the tools available to aid in your efforts to optimize the breeding performance of your herd.


The information in this article was current at 06 Dec 2011


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