New NIR (near infra-red) technology to rapidly analyze feed nutrients allows dairy producers to calculate forage dry matter, moisture, fiber, starch and protein right on the farm.
In turn, dairy producers now have the opportunity to improve the way they feed cows.
On-the-farm NIR feed test technology gives them the ability to adjust rations in real time and on-the-fly. This allows producers to precisely match nutritionists’ feeding recommendations on-site each and every day. The technology can measure the percentage of dry matter, crude protein, starch, ADF, NDF, crude fat and ash in seconds. Options include an analyzer that can be mounted in the payloader bucket or a portable unit the size of a suitcase.
Here are just a few ways on-farm NIR feed analysis can change dairy nutrition, versus sending samples to an off-farm lab:
- Test forage samples taken by hand directly from the bunker or silo, or when chopping hay in the field to adjust chop length as needed
- Get real-time, immediate feed test results in under 60 seconds
- NIR units are easy to use – test more often, as many times per day as desired, at no extra cost
- Spot-test forage samples from different bunker or bag locations; get an average dry matter reading for mixing forages lots at the TMR
- Make diet changes proactively, rather than reactively
- Track dry matter and nutrient changes to predict future feeding programs and plan supplement use in advance
- Monitor the quality of off-farm purchased hay and by-products
- Same-day testing after a major rainfall measures changes in dry matter content, opens the door for dry matter adjustment at the TMR and avoids dips in production that can take days or weeks for the cow to recover
Benefits of Ration Consistency
- Result is greater TMR consistency feeding-to-feeding – consistency cows crave
- Consistency results in more milk and milk components; some nutritionists have seen an additional 1 to 3 pounds of milk per cow per day
- Improved overall cow health
- Rapid payback, especially in larger operations – as few as 3 to 6 months
- Business opportunity for nutritionists to provide on-farm NIR analysis
“If I was a feed consultant or nutritionist I’d be pretty excited about the opportunity to have one of these,” says Dr. Randy Shaver, Professor of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin. “The reason we were interested in on-farm NIR was measuring the dry matter content of silages coming out of the bunker. We have been trying to do a better job of keeping all our rations consistent on a day-to-day basis. The more times test samples are replicated, the more precision that can be attained, Dr. Shaver says.