Balanced ration creates efficiency
Monday, June 5, 2017
Posted by: Phil Krueger, Mycogen Seeds nutritionist
Providing the right mix of nutrients to the cow is critical, and it starts in the field. You can help keep feed costs under control by growing high-quality forages in the necessary quantities to support optimum milk production.
A corn silage hybrid that delivers a good balance of digestible fiber and starch can help save money on supplemental grain while providing the highest-quality forage option. Select hybrids based on the nutrient needs of the animals you’re feeding while also taking into account the agronomic limitations and growing conditions of your farm.
To boost feed efficiency and help ensure animal health, create a balance of fiber and starch digestibility in your ration.
Maximize rumen microbial yield: Rumen microbes digest the forages and fibrous products in rations and use those nutrients to increase their own populations. Once they pass out of the rumen to the small intestine, they become nutrients for the cow to utilize primarily for milk production. High-quality forages yield more rumen microbial growth than poorer forages, which ultimately reduces diet costs.
Plant corn silage hybrids: Brown midrib (BMR) hybrids, bred specifically for use as corn silage, contain less lignin. Therefore, more of the fiber in a BMR hybrid is easily digestible. Such hybrids offer greater Neutral Detergent Fiber Digestibility (NDFD) and move through the rumen more quickly, making way for the next meal. BM3 BMR hybrids are well-researched and provide the highest NDFD. This means greater dry matter intake, better feed efficiency and more nutrients digested and utilized from the feedstuff.
Correct kernel processing: Currently, the primary ways to increase starch availability are kernel processing and allowing the silage to ferment four months or longer. Underprocessed kernels will move through the animal undigested, wasting the valuable starch energy source. Overprocessed corn silage, at times when the fiber particles are too small, can lead to acidosis if the diet does not provide supplemental effective Neutral Detergent Fiber (eNDF) in the ration. Striving for a ¾- to 1-inch theoretical length of cut (TLC) with your corn silage will normally eliminate the potential effects of overprocessing on the fibrous portions of the silage. This attention to detail can keep milk production on target as conditions inside the bunker change with time.
Monitor and adjust rations: Dairy farmers need to continually fine-tune rations and feedstuff options to ensure optimum cow performance and positive ROI. A knowledgeable nutritional and herd management advisor can help you understand the nutrient value in your inventories and plan for future needs. These tools are essential for building a functional and economic ration. Consult with your nutritionist every two to four weeks, or more often in the fall or when changing from an old to a new crop.
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