When it comes to optimizing a cow's ration for milk components, there are three areas that dairy producers should focus on for maximum results. That’s according to Andy Mueller, manager of dairy nutrition and technical support with Purina Animal Nutrition.

Too often, people try to jump to amino acid balancing as the answer to maximize milk components. But it really starts with forages, he says.

  1. Put up quality forages. Focus on making sure forages are harvested at the correct moisture, packed well, stored well — using two layers of plastic and an inoculant to ensure they are free of molds and yeast. “It’s not just about the quantity of forages put up, it’s also about quality forages,” says Mueller.
  2. Properly mix and deliver TMR. After quality forages, making sure the total mixed ration (TMR) is mixed properly is the next step to maximize components. “It can be as simple as a TMR being over- or under-mixed — both change what the cow actually eats and how the ration ferments in the rumen,” says Mueller.
  3. Balance for lysine and methionine. Methionine is the first limiting amino acid in corn silage and soybean meal based rations, and amino acids can help to maximize components.

“Once a farm has ensured it’s putting up the highest-quality forages possible, and made sure the feed is being delivered consistently to the cow at every feeding, then the ration should be balanced for amino acids,” says Mueller.