Straw can help close-up cows maintain dry matter intake during the last critical weeks before calving.

Mike Hutjens, extension dairy specialist at the University of Illinois, shares these points to help you incorporate straw into the close-up diet successfully:

  • Use only clean, mold-free straw.
  • When possible, choose straw with a hollow stem, such as wheat straw. Hollow-stemmed straw floats better in the rumen, which helps increase the rumen-fiber mat.
  • Process the straw to within 1 to 2 inches in length to reduce sorting.
  • Feed about 2 to 5 pounds of straw per cow per day. Some field reports indicate as much as 9 pounds per head per day can be fed successfully.