Research from the University of Minnesota shows that many high-producing dairy herds follow similar feeding management patterns.

Research published in the FebruaryJournal of Dairy Science indicates that the feed management of high-producing dairy herds has a few things in common. How does your farm compare?

Fifty Minnesota free-stall dairy herds were randomly selected for observation. The University of Minnesota scientists found that 70 percent of the farms studied fed cows once a day, while 22 percent fed cows twice daily. Only 8 percent fed cows three times a day. Meanwhile, feed was pushed up to cows more than five times a day. The majority of farms featured post-and-rail feed areas, and bunk-space per cow averaged just under 18 inches.

Corn silage was the most common forage, and all rations contained adequate amounts of neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and crude protein. All farms fed their high-production group a TMR, and water was provided in water troughs.

The researchers found that ration NDF content changed over time, and that this change was associated with some feeding management and TMR characteristics that could easily be modified to achieve better feed utilization and cow productivity — namely, watching particle size and increasing feeding from once a day to twice a day.