Editor's note: Wade Fox, EZfeed Product Manager at DHI Computing Service Inc. in Provo, Utah, provided the following information.

I was in a recent discussion with a dairyman about low milk production and his low peak milk production. The problem appeared to be an intake problem early in lactation. In looking at his strategy for feeding, he fed to an empty bunk because he wanted an "edge" on the cattle appetite. He monitors his bunk calls by evaluating at four-hour intervals late in the day. He evaluated his bunk management report for the last month and stated that only 18 percent of the bunks were empty for four hours during the day. The problem was that it was the fresh pen that was empty for the four hours.

If you had one or two bunks to push out daily, which would they be? The fresh pen and the close-up pen, of course. Are the feeders aware of these critical pens? Do they have target pushouts/weighbacks/refusals to shoot for? The communication and direction to feeders on intakes and pushouts for fresh and close-up pens can have a huge impact on transitional diseases and metabolic disorders and future production. Make sure that you have a system or feed program in place to address this issue on a daily basis. Bunk management is critical to the success and profitability of feed operations.

These are typical targets in the report listed. How do your actual numbers compare?

  Dry Matter Refusal Refusal
Pen Group Pounds per head Actual % Target %
Milking* -0.92 -1.63% -1.00%
Fresh* -1.66 -3.65% -3.00%
CloseUp* -0.06 -0.23% -5.00%