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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.

LATEST

It might not seem like much when you walk through the barn and notice an empty feedbunk. The feed truck eventually drops a pile of feed, and the cows dive in to eat. All seems right with the world. While this may be the perception, reality tells a much different story. That period of reduced intake likely caused a fair amount of stress to the cow’s digestive system, doing more harm than many producers realize.

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Wet feedstuffs derived from the food and ethanol industries are valuable additions to cattle diets, when available within reasonable distance from the farm. They not only provide required nutrients, but their moisture content helps condition total mixed rations (TMRs), increases their palatability and reduces feed sorting by livestock. Depending on their water content and price, however, their purchase can turn into a questionable economic decision.

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More and more dairies are using drone technology to measure the size of their forage piles and more accurately estimate the amount of feed they have in inventory for the next year.

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When it comes to silages and drive-over pile building, Peter Robinson, a UC – Davis extension specialist, believes there is a preference for dairy producers to leave silage oversight to the custom operators who come in and build the piles.

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As we look ahead to the upcoming silage harvest and these volatile grain and commodity markets, how can we take our harvest, storage and feedout practices and improve our efficiencies to improve our bottom lines?

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High-quality forage is the essential foundation upon which every good dairy diet is built. Missing a step or cutting corners will ultimately increase shrink, decrease quality and negatively affect cattle performance.

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