During hot weather, it is critical to feed a high-quality ration that will maximize feed intake.
“Hot-weather rations must deliver all the protein, energy and minerals needed by the cow in a smaller package than the standard ration,” says Jerry Don Ward, ruminant nutritionist with the Louisiana State University AgCenter. “At the same time, these rations must still supply enough effective fiber to maintain rumen health.”
To accomplish this, use these strategies:
• Feed the highest quality forages and concentrates.
• Watch your use of byproduct feeds (beet pulp, cottonseed hulls, etc.) as a source of additional ration fiber. Although these feeds are high in chemical fiber, they contribute very little “chewable” fiber for maintaining rumen health.
• Increase certain minerals in the diet, such as sodium, potassium and magnesium.
• Offer feed more frequently.
• Make sure fresh feed is available when cows leave the milking parlor. During the early morning, the air temperature and the temperature of a cow’s body reach their daily lows, making this a good time to deliver feed.