Back in the olden days, dairy farming in the US consisted of milking a handful of cows producing just a few gallons of milk per cow per day. Today, it is not uncommon to have cows producing over 20,000 lbs of milk per lactation due to better management, genetics, and nutrition.
Advancements in dairy cow nutrition has been one of the biggest contribution towards increasing milk production and components:
Instead of just feeding the cheapest feedstuffs, the manager will evaluate the nutritional values of the feedstuffs before they are purchased.
Understanding how cow metabolises the nutrients also enables the farmer to develop a more precise diet for the cows.
It is also important to focus on improving the rumen efficiency by increasing microbial population in the rumen.
Studies have also shown that specific amino acids and peptides will improve the efficiency of rumen microbes.
When feeding dairy cows and heifers, nutritional requirements must be met for the rumen microbes and the animal's systemic metabolic needs.
It is also observe that rumen buffers and enhancers such as yeast or probiotics can help improve the rumen environment, increasing efficiency of fermentation.
Rumen protected lysine as well as methionine are now regularly used in diets to help deliver the right amount of amino acids to the intestine.
Supplemental fats are also fed to the cows to provide sufficient energy during lactation cycle to help increase milk production.
Organic minerals are now being recognised as having higher bioavailability as compared to inorganic minerals.
Research has also shown that nutraceuticals derived from yeasts will help improve gut health and bolster immune systems.
In the dairy industry, increasing feed efficiency - producing more milk and milk components relative to feed costs with healthier cows - is crucial in order to remain competitive nationally as well as globally.