Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production
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National Dairy Month: Reflections on change and innovation.

Posted June 21, 2021 by Dr. Elliot Block, Research Fellow and Director of Research
Dairy

June is National Dairy Month, a time to celebrate the contributions the dairy industry has made to the world and reflect on the changes that have been made within the industry. It’s easy to see how much the industry has changed over the last 100 years, and it is even more remarkable to consider the nutritional and non-nutritional innovations that have happened in just the last 10 years. However, it wouldn’t be possible without passionate dairy producers, researchers and industry experts who are dedicated to embracing change to keep the dairy industry moving forward.

Nutritional innovations.

One of the biggest developments of the last decade was the study and understanding of how the dietary cation-anion difference (DCAD) influences the cow’s production and health. Specifically, the industry’s understanding of how increasing positive DCAD improves milk fat percentage and yields and how negative DCAD should be applied and managed on-farm for prepartum transition cows have expanded significantly.

A lot of research has also been dedicated to understanding rumen function. Through the Cornell Modeling Program, for example, we now better understand the dynamics of rumen protein and amino acid metabolism, ultimately driving improvements in performance.

Gut health has also received a lot of attention in recent years. We now have much more detailed insights into how gut health impacts an animal’s overall health and performance, and the industry has developed products based on yeast and probiotics to improve gut health and build resilience. The bar for these products continues to be raised because companies like ARM & HAMMER™ emphasize extensive research to develop and verify their efficacy, which is good for the animals, producers and industry.

Essential fatty acids have also gained more attention. ARM & HAMMER was the first company to publish research results and create a product centered around fatty acid nutrition for calves and cows. This was monumental and led to calf milk replacer reformulations and the types of fat used in those products, among other impacts.

Non-nutritional innovations.

The industry has also dedicated more research to understanding how non-nutritional factors affect cow comfort and production. We now have the technology to measure cow comfort based on eating and resting behavior, which led to new barn and stall designs that also improve labor efficiencies. We emphasize cow cooling to minimize heat stress to maintain animal health and production. Our understanding of pathogen control and biosecurity has also increased exponentially, and we have been able to prevent farm-to-farm contamination through biosecurity protocols and the collective efforts of the dairy industry.

Another aspect that has been an important part of moving the dairy industry forward is participation in industry associations and committees. Like many other companies and individuals in the dairy industry, ARM & HAMMER is proud to have team members who dedicate their free time and skills to participate within these organizations, including the American Feed Industry Association, United States Department of Agriculture and Dairy Management Inc. to name a few. Through our industry involvement, we will continue to identify solutions that ultimately support the interests of producers, industry partners, consumers, and the animals themselves.

What’s next?

Looking ahead, we anticipate the dairy industry will continue to search for effective ways to maintain animal health and productivity while driving improvements in areas such as sustainability, animal care and labor. From an environmental standpoint, we expect innovations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without reducing rumen fermentation and productivity. More research will likely be dedicated to capturing that carbon and putting it into products, resulting in improvements in rumen fermentation and efficiencies.

From a cow management perspective, researchers will likely continue to look at housing management to identify cow behaviors and better learn what they like and dislike. Early disease detection will continue to be emphasized, and data informatics will experience a big push as dairy farms continue to learn how to better use the millions of available data points to improve efficiencies.

Adapting and growing during a time of rapid change can be challenging. However, as National Dairy Month continues, it’s important to note the future of the dairy industry is ripe with opportunities. We are equipped with the tools, knowledge and people to usher in the next wave of innovation and continue this great story.

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