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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 the current dairy industry, many times when we think of the “typical” dairy farm, images come to mind of freestall barns or drylots, mixing wagons and commodity barns, huge piles of silage and stack after stack of hay.

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Although it is common knowledge the dairy industry is tough right now, it is still possible to pursue the idea of having a dairy operation. Financial officer Ron Bula said even though cash flow can be tight, there are still opportunities for those looking to start up.

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As automated and voluntary milking systems, more commonly referred to as robots, surge in popularity, so does the interest in using such technology in a grazing-based dairy operation.

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Recently, we completed two research trials on two dairy farms (each farm has over 1,500 cows) in Michigan. Cows were supplemented with a molasses-based liquid supplement from 21 days before calving to 40 days after calving. Trials ran for three months, and rumination data was collected on individual cows using rumination collars.

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Many dairy production operations have achieved very high levels of performance, and a change of any type can have a significant impact on milk production. Dairy cows perform at their highest levels of production when everything is consistent and “normal.” Cows like everything to be the same every hour, every day, every week and every month of the year.

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Crop rotation is an important part of a resilient and sustainable farming system because it breaks pest cycles, spreads the risk of crop failure and improves nutrient utilization, among other benefits.

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