Recently Lynn was asked to write an article for the Agri-Nutrition Blog. Her post appears here. Thanks to Connie Eibergen for posting Lynn’s contribution and to Scott Bascom for the idea.

5 Reasons Why Profit Minded Farmers Need to Take Advantage of Rumen Modeling


By Lynn Gilbert, Guest Contributor from AMTS

We’re no longer feeding the same cows from 20 years ago. The cows we are feeding now are genetically more superior with the capacity to make much more milk than ever before. The Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System (CNCPS) is an advanced system that models the biology of dairy cows. Modeling this evolution of the science behind a dairy cow is important because we have the ability to model things we can’t see. We can see if a cow has laminitis or if her body condition has changed, but we can’t see the cause by looking at her, and we certainly can’t see if her mineral requirements are being fulfilled, unless there are extreme deficiencies.

By using the latest and greatest biology we can SAVE farmers money a few different ways, including: reduced feed costs, healthier cows, improved rumen health, better hoof health and improved reproductive efficiency.

1. Reduced Feed Costs: This is probably the most obvious. The CNCPS fixed a few errors in the well-known ‘gold standard’ of feeding recommendations for dairy cattle, 2001 Dairy National Research Council (NRC). These fixes reflected what the industry is seeing and what the cows are telling us. Cows really do recycle quite a bit of protein (more than we originally thought), so we really have been feeding too much protein for decades. Who cares? What’s the big deal about that? Worst case scenario, it comes out the back-end of the cow. The cow needs to get rid of overfed protein and that takes energy. So let’s get it straight. We’re feeding energy and protein to get milk, but we use energy to get rid of excess protein. So now we need even more energy, which is expensive. Hmmm. Let’s feed an efficient cow so she can do what she’s intended to do: be a cow and reap the rewards of her being a cow.

Protein fed at optimal levels without overage = less purchased feed = more milk in the tank = more money in the dairyman’s pocket = he pays his bills including his nutritionist and we get a good quality product.

2. Improved Cow health: Reproduction and foot issues are the two biggest reasons cows are culled. Both problems have been linked back to what these girls are eating. High concentrate diets were fed because we were trying to meet Metabolizable Protein (MP) requirements that were, in the past, set far too high because we forgot about, or ignored, recycling. Again, CNCPS fixes these errors and helps solve some pretty inexcusable health problems we were often causing.

Feeding for a healthy cow = more milk in the tank = more money in the dairyman’s pocket = he pays his bills including his nutritionist and we get a good quality product.

3. Improved Overall rumen health: Feeding less protein usually means we can feed more high quality forages and less concentrates. Think back to how you learned about a cow. In the picture in your head there is a whole herd of cows eating grass from a pasture. Yes, a pasture, not a grain bin, or standing in a corn field husking the corn. Cows like forages. It is what they were designed to eat. Forages tickle the rumen and help them chew, chewing leads to more chewing and rumination, and therefore to more MILK. Cows are biologically set up to chew and ruminate, and forages encourage this natural behavior. Cows who are allowed to be cows make more milk. Cows with healthy rumens tend to be healthier in general.

Healthy cows = Less vet visits = more $$ on farm.

4. Good foot health in a cow: A cow will have a lesser chance of laminitis and can fight bacterial infections with a better immune system and higher forage diet. When she has good hoof health she will feel better. If cows are feeling well, they want to eat. When they eat, they also rest and are more likely to lay down, not perch or stand. In addition, who wants to eat or get up and down when they are not feeling well? I don’t, and if I were 1,500 pounds I really wouldn’t want to do that!

Less hoof trimmer visits for problem cows = more $$ on farm.

5. Improved Reproductive Efficiency: Healthy cows who breed back don’t need to be replaced. Replacement heifers cost a lot and there isn’t very much return on them until they reach the milking herd. So let’s not raise as many replacements and keep the cows we have OR let’s raise replacements and sell them, bringing in additional revenue for the farm. Now they’re not costing us money, but rather making us money.

1) Less cost on replacements = more $$ on farm; or 2) More revenue on sold replacement animals not needed due to aged cow longevity = more $$ on farm. 3) Larger farms, milking the right cows (and more of them) diluting fixed cost = more $$ on farm.

For more than 25 years, ANC has been committed to helping our clients have healthier cows and make more income. Utilizing the CNCPS biology is a natural fit to our commitment to help our customers achieve these goals. ANC is committed to using the tools available to us to help you meet the unique goals you have set for your herd. Contact us today to get started.


Lynn Gilbert works for AMTS, a software company that is committed to developing tools to aid in ruminant nutrition and management. She enhances the competitiveness of her clients by providing sales support, technical training, and problem solving skills to help them meet their goals. She has been involved in the development and application of software that allows the CNCPS to be used by nutritionists to balance rations for the their dairy

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