Managing Variability in Feed Ingredients & Feed Delivery

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Janet Kleinschmidt explores how feed costs on dairy farms make up a considerable of the total costs of milk production.

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Managing Variability in Feed Ingredients & Feed Delivery

  1. 1. Managing Variability in Feed Ingredients and Feed Delivery
  2. 2. Managing Variability in Feed Ingredients and Feed Delivery Feed costs on dairies make up a considerable portion of the total costs of milk production. In many cases feed costs can be up to or greater than 60 % of the total cost of production. With this in mind, it is extremely important to get the most from your feeding system. Those things in the feeding system that can deliver the most to the bottom line are managing your feed, maintaining equipment and having people that do their job well with an understanding of the impact on animals.
  3. 3. Managing Variability in Feed Ingredients and Feed Delivery In addition to the impact of feed costs, diet consistency can also play a large role in whether a farm is profitable. It is imperative that lactating cows receive consistent diets day-after-day to provide consistent rumen function needed for high production levels. Ultimately, improved economic and nutritional efficiency is achieved when one achieves maximal utilization of nutrients delivered to the farm.
  4. 4. Managing Variability in Feed Ingredients and Feed Delivery In this presentation we are going to look at: • Reducing losses of nutrients during harvest of forages, storage, feeding mixing and delivery. This collectively is often referred to as “shrink”. • Maintaining quality of the feed b/w storage and consumption by the cow. • Accurately defining the nutrient composition of ingredients used in the ration. • Accurately estimating the digestibility of the nutrients consumed by dairy cattle.
  5. 5. Managing Variability in Feed Ingredients and Feed Delivery • Communicating in a timely fashion with nutritionists on a regular to permit formulation of rations which promote high nutrient and economic efficiency. • Monitoring the mixing and delivery of rations to assure compliance with recommendations of the nutritionist. • Monitoring animal performance and transmitting information to the nutritionist and management personnel.
  6. 6. Shrink Shrink is an incredibly underestimated area of loss on farms. I have seen shrink as high as 30 % on farms that don’t harvest and store hay bales in a proper manner. Some of the biggest areas of shrink include: 1. Un-paved feed storage area/mud. 2. Lack of feeder expectations, training and feedback. 3. Wet feeds and silage not well covered due to not enough tires, holes in plastic, and plastic billowing in the wind.
  7. 7. Shrink
  8. 8. Shrink 4. Wind blowing feed away. 5. Poor silage face management. 6. Inadequate packing of silage leading to reduced silage densities and excessive fermentation loss. 7. Excessive refusals. 8. Loading too many ingredients into the mixer. 9. Inaccurate loading of ingredients into the mixer. 10. Scale accuracy on the mixer.
  9. 9. Maintain quality of the feed b/w storage and consumption by the cow. Nutrient loss can account for a large loss of profitability on the farm. Little thought is given to the consequence of nutrient instability of feed ingredients. This is especially critical when feeds have elevated moisture levels. Silages and wet by-products are ingredients that typically heat causing loss of energy and protein, but heating is also found in drier feeds from time to time.
  10. 10. Maintain quality of the feed b/w storage and consumption by the cow. Opportunities for losses of energy and protein due to heating can be reduced by following a few simple guidelines for managing silages: 1. Pack silages adequately to allow for proper fermentation. 2. Cover as soon as possible after packing to reduce oxygen exposure. 3. During feed out, remove only enough plastic for two days feeding. 4. Keep silage faces smooth and vertical. 5. Remove just enough silage for the feeding period. 6. Avoid leaving loose silage at the silage face or in the mixing area for more than 8 hours. 7. Consider using an inoculant containing at ensiling.
  11. 11. Accurately define the nutrient composition of ingredients used in the ration. All feeds, but particularly the forages, should be analyzed on a regular basis:  Dry matters on all wet forages and by-products should be done frequently, on larger farms that may be daily. My clients prefer the Koster Oven method because it is safer than the micro wave oven method but either will do.  Penn State Shaker Box particle analysis should be done on a weekly basis or whenever a change occurs in a TMR. I like to see all milking and dry groups done.
  12. 12. Accurately define the nutrient composition of ingredients used in the ration.
  13. 13. 13 PENN STATE SHAKER BOX
  14. 14. Accurately define the nutrient composition of ingredients used in the ration.  Remember to communicate dry matter and Shaker Box as well as feed refusal values results to your nutritionist.  I encourage my clients to submit forages for analysis once a month or when a bunk change occurs. Some people think this is excessive but we are very fortunate in North America and access to fast, reliable, relatively inexpensive labs which makes testing frequently justifiable.  Some years it may be prudent to be checking mould and mycotoxin loads in ingredients.
  15. 15. Accurately estimate the digestibility of the nutrients consumed by dairy cattle. Many variables can affect feed intake and digestibility. These include:  Animal factors including breed type, age, body weight, sex, stage of lactation, stage of pregnancy, and general health. As milk production goes up, DM intake increases. During pregnancy, dairy cows steadily decrease DM intake. At the start of the dry period, intake falls sharply and remains low until a week to a few days before parturition.
  16. 16. 16 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 Periods Month Freshening Body Stores Used for Milk Production Body Stores Regained for Next Lactation Dry Period Rumen Rehab Nutrient and Milk Yield Relationships in the Lactation and Gestation Cycle Dry Matter Intake
  17. 17. Accurately estimate the digestibility of the nutrients consumed by dairy cattle. Weather.Seasonal, long-term weather patterns as well as day-to-day weather changes can influence feed intake. By anticipating and reacting to changes in temperature, humidity, wind velocity, barometric pressure, and precipitation, predicting dry matter intake intake, feed wastage and bunk cleaning can be minimized.
  18. 18. Accurately estimate the digestibility of the nutrients consumed by dairy cattle. Cows consume the majority of their feed during the comfortable period of the day. In hot weather, cows eat primarily during the late evening, night, and early morning. Therefore, 60% of the ration should be fed at the afternoon feeding to reduce feed spoilage. In cold weather, most eating occurs from mid-morning to late afternoon, so the largest amount of feed offered should be at the morning feeding.
  19. 19. Accurately estimate the digestibility of the nutrients consumed by dairy cattle.  Ration ingredients and characteristics.High quality feed must be presented to cows in a consistent and uniform manner. TMRs should contain about 50% moisture. Rations that are too wet or too dry can limit DM intake. Keeping fresh feed in the feed bunk is also a good management practice. Old feed remaining in the feed bunk can shorten bunk life of new feed and reduce DM intake.
  20. 20. Accurately estimate the digestibility of the nutrients consumed by dairy cattle.  Water supply.Many producers overlook the importance of water availability as it relates to bunk management, including the amount of water, space provided, and the location of water sources. Problems that limit water intake also can limit feed intake, and this, in turn, can reduce milk production and overall cow performance. Poor water quality or lack of water can cause cattle to go off feed quickly.
  21. 21. Accurately estimate the digestibility of the nutrients consumed by dairy cattle. As temperature and humidity go up, more water is required. During months of hot weather, water supply becomes an important issue. Cows drink most of their daily water requirements around milking time. They should have access to water in holding pens during milking or right after.
  22. 22. Accurately estimate the digestibility of the nutrients consumed by dairy cattle.  Feed bunk design.Good feed bunk design is also essential to optimizing DM intake. Dairy cows should have the equivalent of the width of one cow of bunk space each to allow all of them to eat at the same time. Some designs such as 3-row and 6- row barns limit the space per cow. The feed bunk should be 4 to 6 Inches (10 to15 cm) higher than the alley, so the cow can have a natural grazing position when eating.
  23. 23. Accurately estimate the digestibility of the nutrients consumed by dairy cattle. Cows consuming feed at ground level waste less feed, and this position also helps the cow to produce more saliva and improves the buffering capacity in the rumen. In addition, the condition of the feeding surface can affect DM intake. Feed bunks must have smooth surfaces such as tiles or an epoxy coating.
  24. 24. Accurately estimate the digestibility of the nutrients consumed by dairy cattle.  Feeding management and systems.Cows are animals of habit, they like routine. If a change is needed, cows must have time to adjust:  Monitor DM intake to see if the change improved consumption or did not affect it at all.  Deliver enough ration so that 0 to 5% is left over each day or feeding period. Make sure that the feed left over is similar to the TMR or the feed that is being fed.  Feed as many times as possible It is important to keep feed available any time the cattle are willing to eat, which could be 20 to 22 hours a day.
  25. 25. Monitor the mixing and delivery of rations to assure compliance with recommendations of the nutritionist. One of the most important aspects of managing variability in feed ingredients and feed delivery concerns the condition and function of feeding equipment.Mixers, scales, loaders, and other equipment often overlooked as critical points for consistent diet production. Mixer condition Scale accuracy Improper ingredient loading. I get a LOT of questions from producers about this!
  26. 26. 26
  27. 27. Accurately estimate the digestibility of the nutrients consumed by dairy cattle. The following order is usually recommended: 1.Large squares or rounds of hay/straw (if not pre- processed. 2. Dry fine ingredients/feed additives 3. Cotton seed and/or on-farm premixes 4. Haylage 5. Corn silage 6. Wet byproducts 7. Liquids
  28. 28. Accurately estimate the digestibility of the nutrients consumed by dairy cattle. It is important to keep low inclusion products toward the front of the mix order to allow for complete distribution in the diet. Care should also be taken to make sure dry fine ingredients are either mixed thoroughly throughout the mix, and/or added before wetter feeds. This helps prevent clumping of ingredients that may prevent complete dispersal
  29. 29. Monitoring animal performance and transmitting information to the nutritionist and management personnel. And finally I can’t emphasis enough the importance in excellent communication b/w all members of the herds “Team” including:  The producer and all employees including agronomists.  The nutritionist  The herd veterinarian  The hoof trimmer  The ingredient supply company  Others
  30. 30. Monitoring animal performance and transmitting information to the nutritionist and management personnel. With my clients I monitor on a regular basis: Monitoring milk components and SCC MUN’s and bacterial counts Manure scoring and screening Urine pH in dry cows receiving anionic salts Blood NEFA Urine ketone bodies Milk urea nitrogen Rumen pH (rumenocentesis)

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