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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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With drought and heat-stressed corn [...], mycotoxin levels could be elevated leading to animal health risks. Corn grain may exhibit signs of fungi growth and kernel damage.

Mycotoxins are toxic byproducts produced by fungi that infect feed crops due to insect damage or stressed plants. These fungi produce mycotoxins that can include aflatoxin, zearalenone, T-2 and DON (deoxynivalenol) that can impact dairy cattle performance for several reasons, including:

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Sub-acute rumen acidosis (SARA) is a prevalent problem for dairy herds as characterized by having more than 25 percent of cows sampled via rumenocentesis four to eight hours after a total mixed ration (TMR) meal with ruminal pH less than 5.5. Ruminal pH is largely a function of the balance between the production of volatile fatty acids from the fermentation of carbohydrates, their neutralization by salivary and dietary buffers and their removal by absorption across the rumen wall or passage from the rumen, and SARA is caused by the consumption of high amounts of ruminally-available carbohydrate, low amounts of effective fiber or both.

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Feed is the single-largest expense in milk production. Many other livestock industries use feed efficiency as a benchmark for performance; however, dairy producers have only recently started to evaluate feed efficiency. Differences in production systems prevent a straightforward comparison of feed efficiencies. The following [article] discusses how to measure and use these values.

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The role of trace minerals in animal production is an area of strong interest for producers, feed manufactures, veterinarians and scientists. Adequate trace mineral intake and absorption is required for a variety of metabolic functions including immune response to pathogenic challenge, reproduction and growth. Mineral supplementation strategies quickly become complex because differences in trace mineral status of all livestock species is critical in order to obtain optimum production in modern animal production systems.

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A successful dairy operation entails a careful balancing of many small details, while keeping a clear focus on the items that will boost profit per cow and lead to greater long-term financial strength. How to make this happen on a continuing basis is a challenging part of dairy management.

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No one likes to run out of a feed. What should you do if you run out of a feed? When you run out of corn, get some [more] as soon as possible. However, oftentimes this is an inevitable situation, and luckily there is a temporary solution for it called feed substitution. The substitute for a feed is one or two feeds with a similar nutritional make up, on a protein, energy or fiber basis.

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