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Letter from Roy Chapin to Dr. Flissak on Steps Needed to Start Producing Liquid Feeds for Dairy and Beef Animals in Ternopil Oblast

TO: Dr. Flissak, Head of Economy and deputy to the Governor, Ternopil Oblast

FROM: Roy Chapin, Ph.D. Animal Nutritionist, Volunteer with Land O'Lakes, L'viv

SUBJECT: The Next Step Needed to Introduce Liquid Feeds into Ternopil Oblast

Dear Dr. Flissak:

Thank you for your generous allotment of time yesterday (29 June 1999) from your very busy schedule to meet with Igor Vovk and me to discuss how to proceed with introducing liquid feeds into Ternopil Oblast for dairy and beef animals over six months of age. Thanks for having read my material and for being well informed on the potential for liquid feeds to create wealth for sugar factories and dairy and beef feeders in Ternopil. I feel that you are genuinely interested in seeing liquid feeds introduced into your Oblast and that we have a strong mutual respect. I hope we can find ways to work together to accomplish this. Communicating via the written word with Igor as the translator will be more efficient for both of us than meeting personally, although our meeting yesterday was important for us to get acquainted (for the second time) and for us to get started.

Your suggestion that we start first with a large dairy where we could mix and feed liquid feed to determine the milk response sounds good to me. After the positive increase in milk flow that we can expect to get, it should be easier to sell this concept to those that would finance and implement it and also to the end-users of liquid feed. Get me the ingredients, a bathtub and a paddle and we'll get started with cooperating dairy people.

Following are some thoughts concerning our future course of action. It has been suggested that a whole new company be created to mix, sell and distribute liquid feeds. Sugar factories would appear to me to have some inherent advantages. They have most if not all of the equipment needed and are the source of the main ingredient; beet molasses. Even if forming a new company, it would seem logical for the sugar factory to mix the liquid feed at the factory on a contract basis for the new company. In the USA some of the liquid feed plants are separated from the beet or cane molasses source. This is an economic disadvantage, increases the freight costs and makes them less competitive. You know the economic and political environment so I'll leave this question up to you.

Mixing liquid feeds is a pretty simple process. We need some (one) tanks, an air compressor, piping and a way to heat water to dissolve dry urea in water before adding it to the liquid feed (unless we can buy urea already in solution). I think the sugar factory has all of these capabilities so they wouldn't have to be duplicated by a new liquid feed company. We could get started with a minimum of financial investment in equipment.

We will of course need ingredients. Beet molasses is no problem. Urea can be bought dry and put into solution. I understand phosphoric acid is available. It requires some care in handling, such as using acid resistant pumps, piping and meters and employees that know what they're doing. To start, we could buy it in drums and handle it carefully.

To proceed, I need to know the availability of liquid vitamin A, D and E. This is available commercially in the West for use in liquid feeds. If you, Igor or some of your assistants could find a source of this and a price, it would be a big help. I can try to find sources from the West that may be available in Ukraine.

The only other thing we need in order to create a liquid feed is the trace mineral premix. I think we can buy the individual trace minerals in Ukraine and prepare the premix on site. Could your deputies or Igor find sources and prices of the following trace minerals?

Cobalt Sulfate (CoSO4.H20) 21% cobalt
Copper Sulfate (CuSO4.5H20) 25% copper
Manganese Sulfate (MnSO4.H20) 25% manganese
Zinc Sulfate (ZnSO4.H20) 36% zinc
Sodium Selenite (Na2SeO3) 45.6% selenium

And perhaps: Ferrous Sulfate (FeSO4.7H20) 21% iron. It doesn't go into solution easily and probably isn't needed because most feedstuffs are adequate in iron. I'd add it only to be sure there was enough iron in the ration. It is possible to feed too much iron, so we'd need to be careful. Water is sometimes a potent source of iron.

From the original liquid formula that I gave to you, you can see that there is very little cobalt sulfate (20 grams per ton of liquid feed) and selenium (10 grams per ton) added. I could bring enough over in a suitcase to mix a lot of liquid feed but for sustainability, we need to find local sources. If I can come over to help you get started and bring them with me, you need only to find copper sulfate (920 grams per ton), manganese sulfate (2150 grams per ton) and zinc sulfate (2500 grams per ton) and we're ready to mix the trace mineral premix. If the beet molasses, urea, phosphoric acid and liquid vitamin premix are available, we're ready to mix the liquid feed and to feed it to dairy cows to note the milk response. I chose increased milk production rather than improved beef gain to measure the benefits of feeding liquid feeds as the milk response will be faster and more obvious. It would be good to show how liquid feeds can help improve the growth of beef animals also so let's include that in our demonstration if the animals are available.

Care needs to be taken in setting up the feeding experiment. We would want control and experimental groups that were similar. This means we need cows in similar stages of lactation as cows want to milk the first few months after calving and they want to dry up the last part of their lactation. We could solve this if we put every other cow that freshens in either the control or experimental group so we were starting the feeding experiment only with fresh cows. We would measure how high the lactation curve peaks and how well it sustains. Starting cows in various stages of lactation could give us misleading results unless it is done carefully and equally between the two groups.

All cows should be fed the same ration except for the addition of one to 1.5 kilograms of liquid feed/cow/day to the experimental group. Care must be taken that there is only one variable and that that is the addition of liquid feed. In addition to being similarly matched for genetic potential to produce milk (Black and White versus Holstein cows) and in a similar stage of lactation, all cows must have free-choice availability of water and similar forage. Both groups must be fed the same amount of a similar grain ration. Milk response from each milking from each cow in the experimental and control group should be recorded for comparison or at least milk yields should be recorded from all milkings during one day each week. I like daily measurements to reduce variability.

We would need to monitor the situation so be sure the experimental cows actually got the liquid feed each day and that the milk maids feeding the control cows didn't steal some for their cows (since they're paid on milk production) after they saw the milk response produced by the liquid feeds. If they did that, our comparison between the two groups would be flawed. (They would also be tempted to take some home to feed their family cow.) Perhaps all milk maids could have some experimental and some control cows.

We would not want any milk stolen from any cows (or at least they should steal an equal amount from both groups) or we will have misleading data. On test day and perhaps all the time, the feeding and milking response would need to be monitored. We'd want accurate data, as the results will be used to determine the future use of liquid feeds.

How about selling a few jugs of liquid feed to some "nomadic" backyard dairymen for them to feed to a few but not all of their cows to get their impressions. They represent a big market in the aggregate that is hard to reach individually. I'm predicting that they'll get results worth more than the cost of the liquid feed within two weeks with a positive cash flow within a month. Cow appearance and animal health would also improve over several months. I virtually guarantee that you'll be able to pick out the cows that are getting liquid feed by cow appearance two months or less after the feeding experiment starts, particularly during the winter. Pride in the appearance of their animals could be a strong motivator for dairymen to purchase liquid feeds. Increased milk flow would be how they paid for it of course.

During our conversation yesterday you asked about joint ventures. I think this is one project that requires very little additional capital investment and that it will generate a positive cash flow for the feeder within a month, so we could actually proceed without government help (USAID) , except for covering my expenses for the first several months.

You asked about my experience with formulating, mixing and feeding liquid feeds. I did this over a wide area of the USA during a "former life", so I feel qualified to help you do what we're proposing. Liquid feeds are big business in the USA and they could be here in Western Ukraine. I predict that each ton of liquid feed would create $200 of value (increased milk production) above ingredient costs. Each sugar factory can be involved with creating $500,000 to $1,000,000 of added value in the dairy and beef industries. Let's get started! We'll try to leverage your evidence of support into USAID funding.


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