Since January 2008, Diamond V dairy nutrition specialists have conducted about 10,000 TMR audits on dairies around the world, led by Tom Oelberg, a ruminant field technical specialist with the company.
Lessons learned from these audits can lead to better milk production, feed efficiency and profit. “Typically, the first TMR audit on a dairy farm results in a significant milk production increase and often an increase in milk fat content,” he says.
“Subsequent TMR audits don’t always see changes in milk production, but they continue to improve the efficiency of feeding operations, resulting in reduced feed shrink, fuel and labor costs.”
The top five areas that need attention:
- Cows running out of feed or not being able to reach feed. “Often, we see cows out of feed for as long as four to seven hours,” says Oelberg. “More frequent push up of feed allows better access by the cows.”
- Mixer wear. Worn mixing equipment, including knives, kicker plates, augers and liners, increase the amount of time it takes to mix a batch of feed and can often reduce the quality of the mix. “Monitoring and repairing these items as needed, such as kicker plates, is essential to maintain a high-quality TMR mix,” he says.
- Inadequate mix time after last ingredient added. “Increasing the final mix time will allow for TMR to be properly blended,” Oelberg says.
- Low auger speed on vertical mixers. Vertical mixer speeds often are too low to get proper mixing action.
- Inadequate hay processing. “Processing hay and straw into smaller particle sizes will help decrease sorting by cows,” Oelberg says.
Oelberg notes that dairy farmers have huge investments in their facilities and cattle. “If cows can’t reach their feed due to poor push up schedules and milk production declines, return on investment is greatly reduced,” he says. And having properly mixed rations ensures cows get the nutrition they need to support milk production, cow maintenance, health and reproduction.
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