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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

Ask dairy producers and nutritionists whether the source of dietary protein makes a difference in performance and the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

But the answer may not be as emphatic when you ask about sources of supplemental dietary fat and fatty acids, even though the response should be the same. The source of dietary fat makes a difference in animal performance, just as it does for protein sources. It’s a question of digestibility, bioavailability and more.

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Significant advances in dry cow nutrition have been made in the last 20 years. Most recently, interest has shifted to the protein needs of transition cows.

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When milk prices and dairy profit margins are good, such as 2014, we sometimes get comfortable with production and on-farm efficiency. With today’s low milk prices and rising feed protein prices, now is the time to fine-tune rations to enhance microbial growth in the rumen.

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Dairy producers should first identify poor feed hygiene contributors in order to best combat their effects.

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Fat and fatty acid (FA) digestion and metabolism in dairy cattle is of considerable interest to the dairy industry. The subject has received renewed interest for a number of reasons. First, the addition of supplemental FA sources to diets is a common practice in dairy nutrition to increase dietary energy density and to support milk production.

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When the acres of pasture, grass hay, alfalfa, corn and sorgum silages, and grazing wheat in the plains are all added up, forages account for by far the most acreage of any US crop. In fact, land used for grazing is over 780 million acres – equal to 40% of the entire land area of the US and nearly double the land used for other crops of all types. Add to that the 61 million acres of alfalfa, 15 million for corn and sorghum silages, then add in the grass hays and others, and you can see that forages comprise the vast majority of US cropland. And yet, it could be said that forages continue to be neglected when it comes to fertilization.

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