The equipment that mixes the cows’ ration plays an integral role in the day-to-day operation of the farm. If the equipment is not managed and maintained on a regular basis, variation in the rations may occur.
“This potential for variation in the ration, caused by the mixing equipment, can impact cow performance,” says Vic Wilkerson, dairy nutritionist with Purina Animal Nutrition.
Here are four tips to help mix and feed a consistent ration:
• Evaluate uniformity of mix. It may be helpful to evaluate feed at the feed bunk multiple times between feedings to determine the degree of particle or ingredient sorting by the animals. “Consider testing a sample at load-out and again every two to three hours until the next load is delivered,” Wilkerson says.
• Look for dead spots. Safely observe the mixer, while it’s mixing, to help determine if there are dead spots within the mixer. For instance, dead spots can occur when the mixer is not on a level surface.
• Monitor feed volume and mixing time. “Improper mixing occurs when too much feed is added to the load or if the feeding equipment isn’t sized for the operation,” says Wilkerson. If the length of time a load is mixed is an issue, consider adding a timer in the mixing unit so all operators mix the same per load by animal group, he adds.
• Establish a maintenance plan. A maintenance plan should be established to check the mixing unit for wear and tear on the blades, knives, kicker plates, discharger, doors, and load cells.