Click here to see the companion article: Score your bunks
The idea of feeding lactating cows for a zero feed-refusal rate is usually met with resistance in the dairy industry.
“To most people, it’s preposterous,” says Keith Moritz, of Fort Atkinson, Wis. Despite skepticism, Moritz has fed the 600 cows at Pond Hill Dairy for a zero feed-refusal rate — a concept known as slick-bunk management in the beef industry — for more than three years. And he’s done it without compromising milk production.
However, slick-bunk management is not for everyone, cautions Clay Ledford, feed manager at Cimarron Dairy in western Kansas. Like Moritz, Ledford has had success feeding the 8,000 cows at Cimarron Dairy for a slick bunk for more than two and a half years. But, both producers will tell you that it takes excellent management to make it work.
If you have already reduced your feed-refusal rate to 2 percent or 3 percent, you may be ready to take the next step and feed for zero refusals. Use this checklist to find out if your management is up to the challenge.
If you answered “yes” to all of the questions listed above, then turn to page 42 and you’ll find a handy tool to help you get started using slick-bunk management.