“A lot of things we put in our rations are like the toppings on a pizza,” says Leo Timms, IowaStateUniversity extension dairy specialist. That includes the antioxidants that you may use to support udder health. They’re nice to have, but don’t forget the “crust” — the forages that form the base of the ration.

“Underneath the pizza is where it’s at,” Timms stressed recently at the I-29 Dairy Conference held in Watertown, S.D., and Sheldon, Iowa. Although these toppings are important, he contends that the energy, protein and fiber supplied by the base have the single greatest impact on a cow’s nutritional status and, ultimately, her immune function and udder health.