JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Major advances in applied dairy cattle nutrition

M L Eastridge
Journal of Dairy Science 2006, 89 (4): 1311-23
16537963
Milk yield per cow continues to increase with a slower rate of increase in dry matter intake; thus, efficiency of ruminal fermentation and digestibility of the dietary components are key factors in improving the efficiency of feed use. Over the past 25 yr, at least 2,567 articles relating to ruminant or dairy nutrition have been published in the Journal of Dairy Science. These studies have provided important advancements in improving feed efficiency and animal health by improving quality of feeds, increasing feedstuff and overall diet digestibility, better defining interactions among feedstuffs in diets, identifying alternative feed ingredients, better defining nutrient requirements, and improving efficiency of ruminal fermentation. The publications are vital in continuing to make advancements in providing adequate nutrition to dairy cattle and for facilitating exchange of knowledge among scientists. Forages have been studied more extensively than any other type of feed. Cereal grains continue to be the primary contributors of starch to diets, and thus are very important in meeting the energy needs of dairy cattle. Processing of cereal grains has improved their use. Feeding by-products contributes valuable nutrients to diets and allows feedstuffs to be used that would otherwise be handled as wastes in landfills. Many of these by-products provide a considerable amount of protein, nonforage fiber, fat, and minerals (sometimes a detriment as in the case of P) to diets. The primary feeding system today is the total mixed ration, with still considerable use of the pasture system. Major improvements have occurred in the use of protein, carbohydrates, and fats in diets. Although advancements have been made in feeding practices to minimize the risk of metabolic diseases, the periparturient period continues to present some of the greatest challenges in animal health. Computers are a must today for diet formulation and evaluation, but fewer software programs are developed by universities. Several nutrition conferences are held regularly in the United States that are vital for transferring knowledge to the feed industry and the producers of food; the attendance at such programs has increased about 4-fold over the past 25 yr. More emphasis on animal welfare will direct some of the areas of nutrition research. Challenges ahead include having adequate funding for conducting applied nutrition research and for training of students as scientists and for employment in the feed industry.

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