Trying to improve feed efficiency by restricting cows’ dry matter intake can be a problem. If milk production declines, feed efficiency can decline as well, because maintenance requirements will comprise a greater portion of nutrient intake, explains Mike Socha, research nutritionist with Zinpro.

In order to improve feed efficiency, he recommends the following:

1. Get feed in front of the cows, minimize feed spillage and minimize feed pushed over the curb and into pen.

2. Minimize bird, rodent and parasite infestations.

3. Minimize illness and disease challenge, as these increase the amount of nutrients needed by the immune system.

4. Minimize feeding spoiled or lowly digestible feeds.

5. Use proper feed processing to optimize rumen pH and reduce acidosis.  

6. Use extended-day lighting.

7. Group heifers separate from cows and feed accordingly.

8. Balance rations for amino acids.

9. Feed monensin.

10.  Improve the trace-mineral status of your cows.