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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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Undigested starch is useless to the dairy cow. Especially when corn prices are high, one goal should be to minimize starch losses in manure. The first step usually taken to reduce starch loss is to evaluate corn grain particle size and most likely, to grind it finer. But for greater success, more changes may need to be made.

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Increasing ingredient costs have wreaked havoc across the dairy industry, leading to elevated ration costs not seen in many years. Feed costs per pound of dry matter (DM) are rising as much as 20% or more as corn and soybean meal prices climb, minimizing farmers’ profit margins.

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This is the second in a three-part series on forage hygiene. The previous article "Clean up your act: High-quality, hygienic silage starts in the field" and the final piece will address animal health.

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Small-grain forages should be considered as a win-win situation. Dairy farmers “win” as a cover crop, early spring or fall source of forages, decrease in soil erosion, an opportunity to incorporate manure in late spring and early fall, and extending the growing season capturing more solar energy per acre.

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By this time, many of us have come to terms with the high and volatile prices of soybean, corn, fat and other feeds over the last six to eight months. Some dairies had much of their needs locked in for 2021, while others were at risk to the market.

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Climbing temperatures may be inevitable this time of year, but dairy cow productivity doesn’t have to be a casualty of heat stress. The key to success is minimizing decreases in dry matter intake and keeping rumens – and your herd – operating at peak efficiency.

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