However, there are always considerations and risks involved when altering rations and nutrition management programs.
Some factors to consider include consistence and quality of daily on-farm feed mixing and feeding management, daily variations in forage quality and dry matter, herd grouping and ration strategies, the increasing level of soluble protein in home-produced forages, accuracy of forage samples and the forage lab analyses, limited availability of milk urea nitrogen values as a monitoring tool, and the need to gain experience and a comfort level in lowering crude protein in rations and observing herd responses.
In conclusion, both research and on-farm trials indicate that many herds have an opportunity to lower ration crude protein levels without altering milk production. If you are going to use this strategy, keep the following points in mind:
- Is the current ration crude protein level greater than 16.5 percent?
- Are herd milk urea nitrogen levels higher than 12 milligrams per deciliter?
- How consistent are the daily feeding and feeding management procedures?
- Are forages and forage dry matter values consistent on a daily basis?
- Do both you and the dairy farmer believe that this approach will work?
- How will you monitor herd responses?