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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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Looking back to the 2019 forage year, it was a disaster for some dairy farms and a challenge for most. It was almost a perfect storm; several factors that could go wrong happened somewhere.

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Corn silage is the go-to homegrown forage for supplying digestible starch and fibre high-producing cows require. Often, however, shortcuts and oversights during the growing, harvest and storage processes can limit its resulting feed value.

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Over recent years, a whole category of additive products have exploded in dairy cow (and other food animal species) nutrition. Microorganism-based products such as yeasts, bacteria, fungi, enzyme products, etc., have become standards in dairy nutrition and are commonly found in a significant number of diets.

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Coming off a couple of years of adequate to excessive rainfall throughout many dairy forage growing regions across the country, feed hygiene is an increasingly scrutinized forage quality item.

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The cost of feed is by far the main expense for a dairy operation, representing around half of the cost to produce milk on a dairy. The reduction in forage supply and quality over the last six months and lower milk prices we are now experiencing are making dairy profitability even harder.

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As farms have implemented robotic milking into their operations, the perceived challenge of feeding robotic herds has grown. Many farms that have implemented robotic milking or automated milking systems (AMS) have also embraced the idea of free cow traffic in which the cow is free to do as it pleases in the barn on its own schedule.

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