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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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Climate change, greenhouse gases (GHG) and methane are a few topics we are hearing more and more about in the news today. There has been a global push to reduce methane on farms to minimize GHG effects on the Earth, but it is also a push toward more-efficient animals.

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Even when producers put up the right quality of feed for a class of cows, ensuring all cows have enough feed is a goal that has a few components to consider.

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Editor’s note: This is the final article in a four-part series about how an Oregon dairy farmer is making robots work on a grazing system. Read the three other articles How we milk 3 times a day with robots for successRobot repairs: The solution or the problem? and Keeping milk-quality forage coming throughout your harvest season.

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Heat stress is a topic regularly addressed for dairy farms as it causes detrimental impacts each year. On the other end of the spectrum is cold stress, a subject that isn’t talked about as regularly but one that can still create some challenges for farms.

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Managing the welfare and resiliency of cows on a dairy involves a series of routine daily tasks, such as feeding, milking and general herd care. Whether they have a few family members or a team of 200 employees, producers typically establish protocols to complete tasks efficiently while maintaining animal health and productivity. But some feed-management protocols designed to maximize labor efficiency can actually increase levels of harmful bacteria in the total mixed ration (TMR), including clostridia.

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Feed rations account for more than half of the cost of milk production; this number varies depending on the price of milk and feed. How dairies meet feed challenges determines, to a large extent, the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the dairy industry.

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