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Feed & Nutrition

Learn about all aspects of the dairy cow ration, from harvest to storage and balancing additives to forage supplementation.

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Why are fat supplements fed? Because in early lactation, cows cannot eat enough to meet their increasing milk production energy requirements. Thus, cows go into negative energy balance. This is an issue for especially the first one-third of a lactation. And, this negative energy balance is more pronounced and for a longer period of time for cows beyond their first lactation. Consequently, fat supplements are used to increase energy density of the ration. But, if a fat supplement decreases dry matter intake (DMI), the benefit of using it is decreased.

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We hardly even think about vitamin D anymore. It’s one of those vitamins we routinely add to feeds, an inscrutable listing of international units (IUs) on the feed tag. And as for our children, we simply irradiate the milk.

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Last fall was particularly difficult for forage harvesting and post-harvest management. Weather impacts have created major problems for forage management; among these challenges, mycotoxins can be a costly and sometimes hidden risk.

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One factor to consider when determining the price dairy farmers should pay for a forage is the ability of the forage to support milk production.

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Corn silage is often the main feed source for dairy production systems. However, annual cool-season forages can be a viable option for merging forage production and nutrient management during the “off season”.

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When making a several-hundred-thousand-dollar investment with a piece of machinery, we typically do our homework. You can probably share stories of test-driving self-propelled forage harvesters or tractors, prior to investing hundreds of thousands in the machine.

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