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Take Control of Your Ration

Take Control of Your Ration

Our previous blog discussed the importance of taking control of costs on farm; in particular, we focused on the concept of feeding a consistent TMR (total mixed ration) to the dairy herd. But the really important question here is, what ration do the milking cows actually receive in the end?

It is possible to have at least 4 variants of ration in operation every day…

Undoubtedly, there are of steps between the ration on paper and that eaten by the cow. For any one milk cow group in the herd, it is possible to have at least 4 variants of their ration in operation every day:

  • The ration that is accurately formulated on paper, in good faith by the nutritionist
  • The ration that is actually loaded into the mixer
  • The ration that is fed out by the mixer along the feed bunk
  • The ration that is actually eaten by the cows

In fact, the fourth ration variation can be divided into 2 parts due to the inherent sorting behaviour when cows eat a meal. There are those cows that try to eat a predominantly grain ration during their meal session and those cows that may have to eat what is left in front of them, a predominantly forage ration. This type of variation manifests itself as a variable manure consistency within the group, individual butterfat test inversions that are higher than normal, intermittent dry matter intakes, episodes of laminitis and eventually lowered milk production.

The original ration formulation was fine. The recommendations were “disabled”, and inconstancy crept in (which can be due to a combination of any mixer wagon and operator factors).

The variation in performance is due to forage particle length. Fine chopped forage has less total chewing time, lower rumen pH, less fat corrected milk and the lowest efficiency of converting dry matter into milk.

Measurement is key…

To be profitable, milk must have good composition and be produced by high yielding cows to minimise expenses. Both conditions will be met if high quality, cost effective diets are on offer.

Measurement is vital to profit and KEENAN have reacted to this by adding a weighing system, via the unique InTouch controller system, that combines weighing systems, specific algorithms and cloud based technology. This is added to all diet feeders to guide farmers through correct loading order; correct amount of each ingredient to add and how long to mix for each day, bringing consistency.  Another important feature of this technology is that you are feeding the animal exactly what they need every day and thus eliminating waste and reduced feed wastage and the energy needed to produce it.

Author: Denis Dreux