Spring may still be a few months away, but now’s the time to prepare for “spring acidosis,” a phenomenon that occurs in many herds as winter fades into spring.
The symptoms of spring acidosis include loose manure, a decline in feed intake and depressed milk-fat test. These symptoms seem to occur most often in herds that feed more than 15 pounds of corn silage per head (on a dry matter basis), combined with high-moisture corn in excess of 26 percent moisture, says Bill Mahanna, global nutritional sciences manager with Pioneer, a DuPont Company.
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Prepare now to minimize the effects of spring acidosis. Mahanna offers these strategies to help you do so:
Don’t vary high-moisture corn inclusion rates based on forage quality alone. Account for the increased energy available in long-stored, wet high-moisture corn during ration balancing.
- In spring, lower the inclusion rate of the wetter high-moisture corn in favor of more corn silage, or possibly replace some of the high-moisture corn with dry corn.
- Consider adding 1 to 2 pounds of straw to the ration to help develop the rumen mat and stimulate cud-chewing, which helps buffer the rumen. Adding buffers to the ration also can help.
- Monitor changes in ruminal starch digestibility. To do so, pull samples of both corn silage and high-moisture corn at 60 days ensiled. Freeze them. Pull samples again at 150 to 200 days ensiled. Send both sets of samples to a lab that offers a starch-digestibility analysis. Here are two labs that offer this test: Dairyland Laboratories,
, (608) 323-2123; and Cumberland Valley Analytical Services, Arcadia, Wis. , (800) 282-7522. Hagerstown, Md.
Source: Bill Mahanna, Pioneer