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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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One of the truly amazing things about feeding the dairy cow is the diverse nature of the ingredients that can be used in developing the feeding program. While we commonly think in terms of silages, hays, corn, soybean meal and byproducts such as dry distillers grains (DDG) or corn gluten feed, there are a wide range of other ingredients that can be cost-effective and support performance.

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Nutritional management is vital to overall herd health and productivity. As we are learning more and more about how the connection between nutrition and efficiency begins at birth, we know it’s critical to deliver the necessary nutrients to each cow, at the correct stage of life, to maintain optimal output.

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Efficiency is a term that is tossed around a lot in industry circles. Producers want efficient machinery to maximize production, accountants and creditors want efficient operations to ensure profit, nutritionists want efficient cows to signal good health – and so on.

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The idea of the gut microbiome having an impact on health is not new. Hippocrates (400 B.C.) stated that, “Death is in the bowels, poor digestion is the origin of all evil.”

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Yeast products are commonly used in dairy cow diets, but we are often asked whether they should be used and if it matters if the live or inactivated products are included.

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The most unique characteristic of a dairy cow is the rumen, the large fermentation vat that utilizes microbes to convert the feed she consumes into the nutrients she needs. She is able to take feedstuffs that other animals, including humans, cannot use and extract nutritive value from them to produce milk.

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