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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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Although upcycling may be a trendy word that do-it-yourselfers (DIY) have popularized in the last few years, cows have had this art mastered for centuries.

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Name the single nutrient that can impact milk production the most drastically. Hopefully you answered “water” but if you didn’t you are not alone. For most producers drinking water is not a top of mind concern. But consider this, water is the largest nutrient that you provide for your dairy cattle. High production dairy cattle have the largest water requirement per unit of body mass than that of any other land-based mammal. Milking cows drink between 30 to 50 gallons of water per day to produce a nutrient packed product that is itself typically 87% water. When the total daily nutrient intake for dairy cattle is analyzed, it reveals that 12% is compromised of dry matter intake and a whopping 88% is water.

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If surviving four generations in the dairy business has taught the Freitag family anything, it’s that minimizing input costs while optimizing outputs is essential to survive an inconsistent market.

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Feeding green grass to dairy cows is nothing new, but recent innovations have made it easier to add to diets of high-producing cows.

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Change is hard – especially for cows, who are creatures of habit even more than we are. Any changes in a cow’s routine can quickly add up to compromise her health and performance.

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Editor’s note: This article is the third in a four-part series about how an Oregon dairy farmer is making robots work on a grazing system. Read the first and second stories "How we milk 3 times a day with robots for success" and Robot repairs: The solution or the problem?.

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