Project 2: Evaluation of a Real-World Dairy Cow Ration

Description and Deadlines | Documents to download | Partial Report | Final Report | Additional Resources | Last update: Sept 26, 2017 5:00 p.m.



Description and Deadlines: The main goal of project 2 is to help you gain experience in evaluating and formulating rations for dairy cattle in a real-world context. The main steps in completing this project are as follows:
  1. Tu 10/17: List of farms from which ration data will be available and tentative team formation;
  2. Tu 11/07: Team formation is finalized. 
  3. Th 11/09 (9:00 p.m.): Team work allocation: Team Planning and Evaluation (part I is due in drop box; one document per team);
  4. Tu 11/21 (9:00 p.m.): Deadline for partial report in drop box (Use Project 2 Template);
  5. Mo 11/27 Faculty Mentor feedback will be provided.
  6. Tu 12/05 (8:30 a.m.): Deadline for final written report in drop box;
  7. Tu 12/05 (8:30 a.m.): Deadline for all power point presentations in drop box;
  8. Tu 12/05, Th 12/07, and Tu 12/12: In-class presentations and deadline for Team Planning and Evaluation (part II is due in the dropbox; one document per team member).
  9. Tu 12/05, Th 12/07, and Tu 12/12: Team Planning and Evaluation (part II is due in the dropbox; one document per team member).
SPARTAN software and Documents to download: Please use the following documents to complete the project, understand the expectations, and learn how grades will be assigned.
  • Downlaod the  Spartan Dairy ration Evaluator/Balancer version 3 (Window operating systems only!). This free demo version of the software will remain functional on your computer until after the end of the semester. Also familiarize yourself with the Guided Tour, Glossary of terms and the Manual.

  • The Project 2 Template is the document to use to complete the assignment. It contains detailed instructions for completing the partial report and the final report (one per team). The template includes guidelines on what you are expected to write in the reports.

  • Team Planning and Evaluation is a document with two purposes. First, part I of the document will help you and your teammates to break down the project into separate tasks. You will be expected to allocate tasks among yourselves. Not everyone has to do "everything", but everyone should contribute! Also, part II of this document will be used at the end of the project to evaluate your own performance and the performance of your team members. Every team member will complete part II individually. You will be asked to turn in an evaluation of how you and your team members have actually contributed to the products of your team effort.

  • Project 2 Grading Rubrics is a document that should help you focus your efforts where points will be allocated.

  • Evaluation of Oral Presentation is the document that will be used to grade your team presentation. Please, read more about what makes a good power presentation.


Cow eating TMR free stall barn Partial Report:
As soon as team formation has been completed, team members should meet among themselves to assign responsibilities and to agree on how you will keep track of your individual and team efforts (using the "Team Planning and Evaluation form). Below is a series of major steps you will need to have completed for the partial report:
  • To obtain data relative to a particular diet (e.g., lactating, heifer, dry cow) from one of the home farm of one of the team members;
  • Is there a current analysis of the feeds (primarily forages) in the diet?
  • If applicable, how do the on-farm feed analysis results compare to book values (NRC Tables)?
  • What is the price of each feed ingredient in the ration? Check The Penn State Feed Price List (see link below) or "feedstuffs" magazine if you do not have direct quotes);
  • Describe the group of cows (or heifers), including current performance level and the target performance level;
  • Identify the feeds used in the diet and in what proportion on a dry matter basis;
  • Evaluate the nutrient balance and the cost structure of the "current" ration;
  • Write your partial report using the template (and following the instructions found therein).
Final Report: The second part of the project is to take your ration analysis and evaluation one step further and to develop a carefully written final report based on a "What-if" scenario. You will proceed with developing an alternative ration geared towards an objective you will set. The alternative ration will be developed using the software covered in class. The final report will use and build upon the partial report document. Further instructions can be found in the project 2 template document. The emphasis in your final report should be on:
  • Improving on the data / conclusions you made in the partial report (if necessary);
  • Defining very accurately a specific objective of your "study" of an alternative ration, as a modification of the current ration;
  • Use the ration balancing software to develop an alternative ration;
  • Report your results in a tabular and narrative mode;
  • Discuss your results;
  • Draw conclusions from the results.

Resource Material to Evaluate Feed Ingredients, Additives and Ration Composition: You may find the following documents useful to evaluate critically the composition of the ration and to perform a cost analysis. Use these documents as guidelines. Feel free to use other (reliable) sources of information in completing this project.
  1. On-line Scientific Literature and Conference Proceedings

  2. Extension Publications
    • eXtension web site: This is a USDA web site where you can find a series of articles written by dairy scientists for professionals in the dairy industry. The resource areas the most relevant for this class includes: Calf and Heifer Management and Nutrition of Milking and Dry Cows

    • University of Wisconsin Extension: Dairy Cattle Nutrition has a Web site compiling publications, presentations, the proceedings of the 4-state Dairy Nutrition & Management Conference, and decision aid spreadsheets particularly relevant for producers in the Midwest.  See also Upper Midwest Hay Market prices for recent hay pricing.

  3. Feed Composition and Analysis and Ration Guidelines
    • The UW-Madison Soil Sci. Dpt. and Dairy science Dpt. have a Soil and forage analysis lab at Marshfield and Madison. You can learn about their services and fee. This is a good resource to evaluate forage quality. See for example NDF digestibility values and average TMR composition in Focus on Forage: Sampling and Evaluating Total Mixed Rations.

      • NRC Feed Composition Tables: This is the spreadsheet that includes composition of feeds as listed in Table 15.1 - 15.3 of the 2001 NRC publication and used as a default values in the NRC ration evaluation software. Use this document to assess ingredient composition.

      • Ration Guidelines: These are the ration guidelines describing expected dry matter intake (kg/d and lbs/d) across different stages of lactation and the expected nutrient content of the ration. Note that these guidelines illustrate also the impact of low dry matter intake versus high dry matter intake in the first few weeks after calving on the expect nutrient concentration in the diet. Use this document to assess dry matter intake and ration nutrient composition.

      • Feedstuffs Magazine has a 2011 Reference Issue that includes analysis of "rare" feeds, articles on mycotoxins, and nutrient requirements of farm animals and pets.

    • Feed Ingredient Prices
      • Feed Price List — Penn State: The Dairy Team at Penn State compiles dairy feed price on a regular basis. Look at the bottom of the page for "Feed Price List". If you do not have any other price information, this list is a good start, not only to pick prices but also to study the relative prices of various feeds. Download the October 2015 Price list or October 2016 Price list or September 2017 Prices or October 2017 Feed prices. Use this document to get current dairy forage, concentrates and by-product feed prices.

      • The Agricultural Electronic Bulletin Board of the University of Missouri has an excellent and regularly updated By-product Feed Price Listing (unless otherwise noted, prices are $/ton.)

      • Farm prices and Market prices of dairy feeds are available as a searchable Database from the Economic Research Services (ERS) of the USDA.

    • Additives and Commercial Products
      • Feed Additives in Dairy Nutrition and Management: Mike Hutjens at Illinois has done a great job of summarizing various feed additives used in dairy cow ration. The first version of this document, which was presented at the 1993 Western Dairy Management Conference has outdated prices, but includes a more extensive list of feed additives list of feed additives. Use this document to help evaluate specific feed additives in the ration of dairy cows.

      • The on-line version of the Dairy Herd Management Magazine has a series of "Management Resource" page providing links, articles and information about commercial products related to newborns, heifers, minerals, forage, and more.




Keywords:dairy science 414 project ration formulation and evaluation commercial product   Doc ID:57745
Owner:Michel W.Group:DS 414 Ruminant Nutrition
Created:2015-10-24 16:30 CSTUpdated:2017-11-07 19:53 CST
Sites:DS 414 Ruminant Nutrition
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