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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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In today’s world, we often feel like we have more to do than we can ever get done. This is definitely true when it comes to managing a dairy farm business as you try to manage all the different aspects of the operation. To prevent one from becoming overwhelmed, it is important to sort out the tasks that need to be done and complete those with the highest priority first. As it relates to the dairy nutrition program, the following five areas need to receive the highest priorities. These include:

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Now is the time to think where changes can be made on the dairy to lessen the impacts of hot weather on dairy cows. Besides changing the cow’s environment to lessen the effects of heat stress, dairymen may also modify their feeding program in order to give their animals additional relief during hot weather. The main objective of feeding cows during heat stress should be to maximize feed intake.

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Profitable dairies will pay attention to forage production and management this year, says nutritionist Aaron Naber. It’s one of three keys to profitability in 2007, he says, all dairy producers should remember.

“The dairy producers that manage forages and have the ability to feed high-forage diets are generally at the top of the heap,” Naber says.

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Clinical vitamin deficiency as characterized by classic deficiency symptoms is rare in well-managed dairy herds. Occasionally deficiency symptoms are noted in calves or growing heifers fed poor-quality diets. Of greater concern is the occurrence of sub-clinical vitamin deficiency where classic deficiency symptoms are not observed but where the normal functioning of body systems (i.e., immunity, reproduction, intermediary metabolism) is compromised by marginal vitamin status at the tissue level.

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What do we feed a cow? Cows can make milk from grass. A cow can produce more milk when they are fed ingredients with more energy. Do cows produce more milk with feed additives?

The basic ingredients of a ration fed to a cow are alfalfa, silage and corn grain. These ingredients together contribute fiber, protein, energy and calcium for the cow. Other feedstuffs can be added to better balance the ration, lower the feed cost and may produce more milk. Many of the feedstuffs are byproducts.

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The understanding of protein nutrition in dairy cows has been something of a challenge for dairy scientists and researchers over the years. This is largely due to the fact that a cow is a ruminant which causes her to have two sets of protein requirements: one for the microbes in the rumen and the second for her general metabolism. Protein metabolism in a ruminant goes through a different process than that of mono-gastric species such as swine and poultry. A better understanding of protein nutrition in our dairy cows has become necessary in recent years to:

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