Testing for starch availability pays

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Jeff Harris, nutritionist with EPL Feeds in central Washington, knows first-hand that rumen degradable starch levels can vary considerably and that testing for it is a valuable asset when formulating rations.

A farm he was working with was going to start feeding from a new bunker of corn silage. Harris ran a rapid rumen degradable starch test to make sure they didn’t have any hiccups in milk production when the transition to the new silage occurred.

“The test showed that the amount of starch available to the cow was going to be significantly lower than the previous corn silage fed. I didn’t believe that it was possible for the numbers to be so drastically different; particularly since it was the same variety,” Harris says.

They decided to go with the ration-balancing calculations and did not adjust to what the rumen degradable starch test said.    

As a result, Harris says the herd’s milk production dropped considerably. Shortly thereafter, the ration was adjusted to reflect what the rumen degradable starch test suggested the starch availability was and milk production came back. “It’s a lesson I will never forget,” he says.

The test Harris used was a rumen degradable starch test from Calibrate® Technologies.

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