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Dairy farmers face
BST shortage    
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[FEB. 4, 2004]  URBANA -- Dairy producers should tailor their management response to the shortage of bovine somatotropin hormone to their operations, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist. The hormone is known as BST.

"Dairy managers will need to consider their options and cow responses, as no one 'right answer' will fit all dairy farms," said Mike Hutjens. "Total milk yield may drop 1 to 2 percent in the United States due to the BST shortage in 2004."

Earlier this year, U.S. dairy producers learned that Monsanto, the company that supplies BST, would be cutting back. Producers will be able to purchase only half of their normal supply during the rest of 2004.

"Manufacturing limitations have led to the shortage," said Hutjens.

Hutjens recommends that producers and managers measure their response against the following criteria:

--Economics determines the best strategy. Get the best return on the BST supply you will have.

--Late-lactation cows may drop 15 to 30 pounds of milk per day when BST injections are stopped. Be ready to dry these cows off.

--If cows in mid-lactation are removed, dropping in milk production, but remain in the milking herd, these cows could become overweight, leading to metabolic disorders and health risks in the next lactation. Consider a lower nutrient ration if this strategy is used.


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--Early-lactation cows (labeled use) may respond with milk increases of 8 to 12 pounds per day.

--Heifers may be a group not to inject with BST, due to size and growth requirements.

--Look for potentially less responsive cows -- thin cows, cows with elevated somatic cell counts and cows with a history of metabolic or health problems.

--Remove BST-injected cows before they receive three injections, since cows ramp up during the initial injection period before reaching a full response.

--Do not extend the interval between injections -- from 14 days to 18 days, for example. Cows ramp up with successive treatments, and pounds of milk can decline between extended injections and not recover to prior levels.

[University of Illinois news release]

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