We have Team meetings every Monday–even before the current, stay-home-stay-safe environment. We have always had staff that has worked from distant homes, most of the time. It has been a great way for us to touch-base on projects, keep current with everyone’s schedules, sometimes trouble shoot issues and situations, and, in some cases, talk over solutions to support questions we get. The main part of our team works at the Groton, NY office in upstate New York State. On our State’s governor’s recommendation, we have been working from home since March 16. Judging by our support calls and questions from AMTS users, so too, have many of them. We find ourselves doing more program functionality tutorials for people to have time at home to poke around in the programs. We have created videos and blogs to help those who cannot reach us. Late last week and this week we have seen a marked increase in calls about how to incorporate milk into cow diets. Headlines around the US show tanker loads of milk being dumped into lagoons, on fields, and down the drain. In some cases the disruption in the supply chain is to blame, some point to the loss of markets like schools, restaurants, and other bulk buyers as people shelter-in-place. In some areas we are met with ironical shortages that when we go to the market where milk and other dairy products are in low supply or limited. At the same time, whey and some milk by-products are expensive or hard to get. In desperation, farmers and nutritionists look at the high value protein source going to waste and consider incorporating them into adult cow diets.

Lynn brought up in with Tom last week. He helped by talking through how milk could be successfully fed. She transcribed the discussion for posting:

Let’s face it producing milk is really expensive and labor intensive.  People even call it a labor of love.  In the last week we’ve all read the articles about US farms having to dump their milk. This is absolutely heartbreaking no matter how you look at it.  Add that to the reality of prices that were rebounding a month ago are now looking like the past that we’d all like to forget rather than relive.  The big elephant in the room is: what can we do with the excess milk on farm Can we feed it?  Which diets can we add it to and maybe which shouldn’t we add it?  How do we go about feeding it and at what rates?

I asked this to Dr Tom Tylutki, PhD; he has some really good answers to some of these questions.

  1. Should we consider feeding milk back to the cows? Tylutki: “Really, the only way I would consider feeding milk to cows is if: I had a digestor where I pulled out of the milk tank what I needed to feed today and rest went into digestor. The milk hauling company then takes trailer, cleans/sanitizes and repeats with fresh load tomorrow morning.”
  2. What groups of cows would you use milk as an ingredient?Tylutki :”First, I would never feed it to dry cows. Especially closeups because of the K and Ca levels in it.”
  3. What about growing animals other than wet calves?Tylutki: “Heifers: I would limit to probably no more then 5-8 lbs as fed and even then I’d be careful because it will taste really good. They will overeat and potential for getting fat goes up.”
  4. How would I feed it to lactating cows?Tylutki:  “It is going to be tricky. Probably can do 1 to 1.5 lbs dry matter. BUT:
  • Let’s say we got a trailer load, 75,000 lbs. At 12.5% solids, that’s 9375 lbs of dry matter. At 1.5 lbs dry matter, that’s 6,250 cow feedings. On a 1000 cow herd, that’s 6 days. NO WAY in hell. It’s going to spoil. Depending on your local weather–you may have a very small window before spoiling! It was 85 in Texas yesterday–how long do you think milk will stay “good” in that ration.

  • Shelf life: huge issue. 1-2 days at current temperatures (local NY 40-50) stored in an uninsulated tank. Then think of all the bacteria that are going to grow. And the smell. Good-bye DMI from sour milk!

  • There is a good chance that sour milk smell would go into milk. These are short aromatics that can pass into mammary gland. A lot of that is going to be from the fats. FYI: That’s why we can store whey longer: no FAT!

  • If you do have a way to store: Cleaning of storage system. How???

  • Handling and Heating: We start getting, say, 12 lbs of milk (that’s 1.5 lbs DM), if TMR is already around 45 DM, it’s going to get really wet and the potential for it to start heating is really high.

  • If you have addressed storing and cleaning: How are you going to mix it in storage tank? Cream separates out pretty quickly. Now we have super high fat layer that will cause havoc in rumen.

  • Ignoring all that, nutritionally it is pretty good. High sugar. Good protein levels but mostly degradable. And high fat which could be good and bad.”

These are all fantastic ideas and can help you use milk that may otherwise be dumped. To use milk in AMTS.Cattle.Pro you’ll need the ingredient Whole Milk added to your farm feed library.  Currently the only whole milk ingredient is designated as a Calf Liquid Feed(CLF) which can not be use in a lactating diet. When you use a CLF ingredient in a lactating or even heifer diet (excepting wet calves) you get really strange DMI predictions–we know, we get calls.

Until we have a new release with Whole Milk as a feed ingredient, you would need to build a feed from scratch.   We have created a feedbank with the correct inputs for 3.5 % and 4.0 % Fat milk. To get the feedbank, contact support and we will email it to you. 

1. Download the emailed file and save it in your Feedbanks folder. On my computer, my AMTS files are located under Documents > AMTS > AMTS.Cattle.Pro > Feedbanks

2. In the Program, Feeds Screen, click on My Feedbanks and make sure the Milk FB is checked in the Active Feedbanks column.

3. Now, back in the Feeds Screen, you can bring it into the diet.

If you are looking for more information from Tom similar to this blog, here is Tom’s 20 Questions for herd evaluation. He broke the answers out for heifers, Dry Cows, and Lactating cows in the linked blogs and discussed it in this webinar. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns and thank you for everything you do. Stay Safe.


*Over the weekend, both Cornell and The University of Wisconsin released articles outlining strategies for both reducing milk production and feeding milk (link to Cornell Article) (link to UW article) as part of the ration. Please check them out for excellent information.

Translate »