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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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Let’s look at the facts. Grain commodity prices are the highest in recent memory. Marginally producing hay plots could quickly be plowed to grow corn this year rather than alfalfa or grass hay. If this occurs, can you guess where the price of hay is headed?

The solution may be not just pastures but ‘well-managed’ pastures. Well-managed, irrigated perennial pasture may provide an overlooked alternative to producing high-quality forage to help balance feed requirements. Our purpose is to provide you with a few ideas to achieve the goal of well-managed pastures for dairy cows.

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In 10 minutes a day, six days a week or one hour per week you can keep your nutrition program in shape and performing optimally. The following are key monitors to track and evaluate each week. If you follow these every week, changes or deviations are quick signals to you that something in your nutrition program or cow management has changed.

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Escalating feed costs have challenged many dairy producers in recent months, including Brian Mitchell’s clients. Mitchell, a nutritionist for more than 30 dairies located throughout Idaho with a combined 40,000 cows, empathizes with dairy producers who feel a lack of control over rising feed costs. Mitchell advises his clients to focus on the things they can control – on-farm forage production, cow health, reproduction and milk production.

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The price of corn has increased 45 percent from 2005 to 2006. Corn grain is fed as a major energy source in lactating rations. How can one maintain the proper energy levels to continue one’s current milk production?

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Distillers grains with solubles (DG) is a unique feedstuff providing protein, fat, highly digestible fiber and minerals, all of which can be utilized in dairy rations. Distillers grains with solubles are coproducts from the manufacture of ethanol. Although other cereal grains, such as sorghum, wheat or barley, can be used to produce ethanol, the predominant cereal grain used in the United States to produce ethanol is corn (Zea mays).

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Remember when gas prices approached $3.50 a gallon? It had a tremendous impact on our economy. Hybrid vehicles were on back order, and dealers were practically giving away SUVs. Despite the high prices, we still went to the pumps and filled up our tanks. Why? Because we needed the fuel to run our cars and trucks, and operate our businesses.

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