Translating calculations into ration formulation can be challenging, and a new tool from Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition is taking the guessing game out of Dietary Cation-Anion Difference (DCAD) balancing. The DCAD calculator—a Web-based tool hosted on AHDairy.com—is helping nutritionists and producers translate their feed and forage analyses into useable, on-farm knowledge.
“While the actual DCAD equation can be easy to solve, taking the information and putting it into practice can be more difficult for dairy nutritionists and their producer clients,” explains Elliot Block, PhD, Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition. “The new DCAD calculator helps to turn a feed analysis into applicable information to help make accurate ration formulation decisions.”
The DCAD calculator allows users to input the levels of four macrominerals—sodium, potassium, chloride and sulfur—which are commonly found in feeds and used to calculate ration DCAD.
“The purpose of the DCAD calculator is to help identify current ration DCAD levels and provide a better understanding of why certain levels are critical during each stage of lactation,” explains Block. “Since the nutrients of feeds and forages can change from one load of feed to the next, routinely calculating ration DCAD can help ensure cows remain healthy and perform to their potential.”
The practice of balancing rations for DCAD is backed by extensive university trials and on-farm research1. Feeding BIO-CHLOR® Rumen Fermentation Enhancer to safely lower DCAD levels to -8 to -12 meq/100g ration dry matter prior to calving can help maintain dry matter intake, reduce metabolic disorders and boost early lactation milk production. Once a cow calves, boosting DCAD levels with DCAD Plus® Feed Grade Potassium Carbonate to +35 to +45 meq/100g ration dry matter helps to increase intake, leading to greater milk and component production.
1 Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition. DCAD Nutrition for Dairy Cattle Research Summary. PC 2063-1003, 2010.