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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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Moisture management is critical to putting up high-quality hay. If baling is done when the hay is too wet, producers risk the possibility of mold, fungi and yeast growth, leading to excessive heating as well as the development of harmful mycotoxins. Conversely, as hay dries out, leaf loss increases, which reduces tonnage, nutrient levels and profits.

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Quality bypass protein like SoyPlus is a cost-effective solution to providing important metabolizable protein in pre-fresh diets.

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In another installment of Penn State Extension’s Dairy Grazing Management Guide webinar series, University of New Hampshire professor, extension educator and veterinarian Andre Brito discussed the growing popularity of supplementing kelp to cows in pasture-based systems, both organic and conventional.

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Pasture is the primary source of forage for grazing dairies. In the northern U.S., this requirement is typically met by a May-to-October grazing season, and profitability depends on pastures that provide a uniform, season-long supply of high-quality forage. However, in the northern U.S., seasonal variation in temperature and precipitation creates a challenge, as the predominant forage plants, which include perennial grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass and smooth bromegrass, and legumes such as white clover, undergo a “summer slump” in production.

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In times of low milk prices, there is a need to reduce feed costs, and one way is to feed more homegrown forages. In order to feed a higher inclusion rate of forages, they need to be highly digestible, and this starts with seed selection.

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Key performance indicators, such as milk urea nitrogen, ration nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) levels, corn stalk nitrate testing, and soil fertility assessments are only useful if we know what to strive for.

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