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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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“My dad taught me that if we take care of the cows, they take care of us,” says Chris Heins, sixth-generation dairy farmer in Lafayette County, Missouri.

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Milk and dairy products made from grass-fed cows are hitting grocery store shelves. Adding a grazing component is not only a consumer-friendly approach, it is also a viable economic one for many dairy farmers today.

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One hundred percent grass-fed milk is a relatively new – or at least re-emerging – focus for dairy farmers in the U.S. Unlike certified organic dairy practices, no grain is allowed to be fed, so these cows make milk from pasture alone.

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Feeding robot herds does not have to be intimidating. The cows still receive all the nutrients they need. However, instead of all of the nutrients being in the TMR, some are fed in the partial mixed ration (PMR), which consists of all the forages and some protein and energy sources at the feedbunk.

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Proper silage harvest management is the key to quality feed all year long. We can’t always control or manage all aspects of harvest, but there are several we can. With forage inventories being low this year, it is more important than ever to make sure that the aspects of silage harvest we can manage, we do well.

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Paying special attention to transition cows from the close-up or maternity pen to the fresh pen usually pays big dividends for the dairy producer. During no other time in a cow’s lactation cycle will she be more prone to diseases and setbacks than this short window. The big dividends paid to the dairy producer include higher milk production, maintain/minimize loss of body condition score, low incidence of metabolic disorders, minimize loss of immunocompetence, control/decrease days to first ovulation and maintain/enhance fertility after the birth of a healthy calf.

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