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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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Your nutritionist could be the most valuable member of your corn silage chopping crew – even though he or she probably will never drive a chopper or packing tractor. Knowledge of your ration and cows can allow your nutritionist to make suggestions for improvement based on how last year’s silage crop fed and how your herd performed.

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Rotating alfalfa with corn can increase corn yield potential through improved soil physical properties that enhance water infiltration and root extension, a reduction in disease and pest pressure (i.e., corn rootworm) and an enhanced soil microbial community.

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The 2012 growing season has reached the finish line, and for many it was a year we hope to never experience again. With producers working hard this summer and fall to get enough feed for the year, many questions came across my desk regarding summer forage crops, late cuttings of alfalfa and a wide variety of other topics related to the recent drought and subsequent feed shortage.

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While the total neutral detergent fibre content (NDF on a DM basis) of a forage crop is a major factor in defining the overall maturity at cutting, it’s by no means the last word in understanding the digestibility of this fibre fraction when eaten by the dairy cow or replacement heifer.

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Amino acids (AA), essential nutrients for dairy cows, cannot be considered optional feed additives. When AA levels in the ration are properly balanced, milk production, the cow’s reproduction and health each benefit.

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Feed prices for the last five years have been at historic highs. The ability of ruminants to convert lower-digestibility feedstuffs (forages and other high-fibre feeds) into edible products has always been a positive attribute and one that has historically allowed the use of lower-cost feedstuffs, often byproducts which would be wasted otherwise.

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