Editor’s note: The following information was provided by Rock River Laboratory, in Watertown, Wis.

With milk prices fluctuating and feed costs at a premium, monitoring mineral content in your client herd’s TMR is more critical now than ever before. There are two key areas where close observation can help determine whether or not your prescribed diet is being fed.

Is your mixer working properly? This is an area often times overlooked by the feeder. Without proper mixer maintenance, your mineral may not be distributed evenly across the bunk.

Is the feeder mixing properly? Human error can prove to be costly if products are being added in the wrong sequence. The amount of time spent mixing is crucial as well. Over-mixing or under-mixing can greatly affect cow performance and health.

To determine whether your TMR mix and distribution are accurate, take several samples at equal distances across the bunk. For instance, pull one sample every 10 feet for the length of the bunk and submit the sample for mineral analysis.

As part of our commitment to bring you the most accurate and cutting-edge analysis, Rock River Laboratory has installed an X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer. This technology allows you to get same-day mineral analysis on your NIR samples. How does it work? This instrument exposes the sample to X-rays; each mineral of interest emits a specific radiation. Based on the intensity of the radiation, the concentration of each element is determined. The instrument is calibrated to give you results for Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Magnesium, Sulfur, Sodium and Chloride.

We have performed many comparative analyses using the XRF and our ICP method. The test is convenient and practical, and our results are always dependable. For more information on XRF mineral analysis, please visit www.rockriverlab.com.