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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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The basic driving forces for manipulating the composition of milk are much the same now as they were 25 years ago. They include:

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Cows like to eat high-moisture feeds. Remember the cow grazing? There are high-moisture byproduct feedstuffs we can feed our cows. How much do high-moisture feeds really cost? Are they a good buy compared to the alternative? Here is how you can make that decision.

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The management of feeding and nutrition are the primary areas of interest when attempting to reduce lameness problems. This may or may not be the correct approach, depending upon the specific types of lameness experienced. For example, it would be hard to influence the incidence of infectious foot diseases (foot rot, interdigital dermatitis or digital dermatitis) by manipulation of the diet alone.

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Corn distillers grains are becoming more readily available, due primarily to the rapid growth in the number of ethanol plants. Wet milling of corn is designed to produce pure starch and capture the maximum value from each kernel of corn. Each bushel of corn yields on average 31.5 pounds of starch, 12.5 pounds of gluten feed, 2.5 pounds of gluten meal and 1.6 pounds of oil. Four major types of livestock feedstuffs are produced:

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Forages are the foundation of sound, economical and animal-healthy rations. In most situations, home-produced forages are the most economical source of fiber, protein and energy in the dairy ration. A primary role of forages is to provide a source of effective fiber to stimulate chewing and rumination activity.

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During times of low milk prices, it is important to analyze the price of the feedstuffs you are using and fine-tune the management of various aspects of the dairy. What is the level of milk production on the dairy? Use or start a spreadsheet to monitor daily herd milk production. On a daily basis, keep track of the number of fresh cows, cows dried, cows died and cows beefed. Each month, weigh the cow’s milk. By tracking this information, you will be able to know your baseline for production and how it changes day to day according to feeding, environment or management changes.

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