Research published in the February Journal of Dairy Science indicates that the feed management of high-producing dairy herds has a few things in common.

Fifty Minnesota free-stall dairy herds were randomly selected for observation. University of Minnesota scientists found that 70 percent of the farms 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. 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.