Enhancing Dairy Profitability and Reducing Potential Water Pollution Through Lower Dairy Ration Phosphorus Levels
Recent research has determined that dietary phosphorus levels for lactating dairy cows can be significantly reduced without negatively impacting milk production or reproductive performance. Presently, most dairy rations are being formulated with phosphorus levels higher than recommended by the National Research Council (NRC 2001). Reducing phosphorus levels in Pennsylvania dairy rations to NRC recommendations can provide two benefits: reducing manure phosphorus excretion, thus reducing environmental concerns; and, most importantly, reducing dairy ration costs by $15.00 per cow per year with potential saving to Pennsylvania dairy producers of $9 million annually.
While some producers are aware that manure phosphorus levels will decline when feed phosphorus levels are reduced, many are reluctant to reduce their phosphorus feeding for fear of reduced milk production and/or reproductive performance. Change in producer attitudes and practices are often more widely and rapidly accomplished when some from within their group adopt the change and document the desired outcome. Fourteen dairy producers from southwestern Pennsylvania have agreed to cooperate in this project that will show that reducing phosphorus in the dairy ration to revised NRC recommendations will decrease manure excretion and not adversely affect dairy cow performance. This project seeks to accomplish reductions in manure phosphorus levels and improvements in farm income through a well-monitored multi-farm research/demonstration project of the new phosphorus feeding recommendations. Environmental sustainability will be enhanced when bringing these farms into compliance for the phosphorus-based nutrient management plans. Of even greater interest to the producers involved and to the dairy community at large will be the improvement in the economic sustainability of their individual farms through a reduction in the cost of feeding their cows without a reduction in gross income.
During the two-year study, seven of the operations will continue to supplement phosphorus at levels similar to the previous two years (same P) while the other seven will reduce ration phosphorus to NRC recommended levels (reduced P).
Reduce ration phosphorus levels on seven of the 14 study herds to NRC recommended level.
Milk and component production will be monitored and measured to see if there is significant change with the reduced ration phosphorus level.
Reproductive performance will be monitored to see if there is significant change with the reduced ration phosphorus level.
An economic analysis will be conducted to see if the reduced phosphorus levels significantly affected feed costs and profitability.
Average milk production/cow for 2004 – 68.87 lbs.
Average milk production/cow for 2005 – 74.50
Average milk production/cow increase – 8.63 lbs.
Average calving interval for 2004 – 14.2 months
Average calving interval for 2005 – 13.96 months
Average calving interval decrease – .20 months
Average ration phosphorus level (as designated by the producers’ dairy nutritionist) for 2004 – .44%
Average ration phosphorus level (as designated by the producers’ dairy nutritionist) for 2005 – .40%
Average ration phosphorus level decrease – .04%
Average total mixed ration phosphorus level as mixed and fed to the dairy cow for 2004 – .41%
Average total mixed ration phosphorus level as mixed and fed to the dairy cow for 2005 – .39%
Average total mixed ration phosphorus level decrease – .02%
Average fecal phosphorus level for 2004 – .76%
Average fecal phosphorus level for 2005 – .72%
Average fecal phosphorus level decrease – .04%
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Average milk production per cow has increased and calving interval has decreased. Average ration, total mixed ration, and fecal phosphorus levels are lower without detriment to either milk production or calving interval.
791 Wrigden Run Road
Marion Center, PA 15759
Office Phone: 7243979117
289 Neal Road
Homer City, PA 15748
Office Phone: 7244793672
263 Game Reserve Road
Butler, PA 16001
Office Phone: 7242828782
2360 Dogwwod Road
Cherry Tree, PA 15724
Office Phone: 8147436254
1695 Rt 259 Hwy
Bolivar, PA 15923
Office Phone: 7242380193
RR 9 Box 264
Greensburg, PA 15601
Office Phone: 7246682833
300 Ross Road
Homer City, PA 15748
Office Phone: 7244793898
111 Hartzell Road
Slippery Rock, PA 16057
Office Phone: 7247944743
Brookside Dairy Farm
2677 Old Rt. 56 Highway West
Homer City, PA 15748
Office Phone: 7244792822
2512 Grange Hall Road
Seward, PA 15954
Office Phone: 8144466160
353 Blossom Hollow Road
Commodore, PA 15729
Office Phone: 7242549726