Managing Rations More Efficiently
Common For Farmers To Discuss Rations In Terms Of Percentages
While discussing feed rations in terms of percentage work well when evaluating the ingredients, it does not provide enough information regarding the amount of nutrition consumed by the cows. Cows consume feed by weight instead of percentages.
While it isn't a new concept, most farmers still do not proactively take steps to count the amount of feed animals are eating. Understandably, it requires more time and effort to do so as feed delivered to each string has to be recorded and measured how much is left after the cows are done eating. With that being said, the information obtained will give farmers tremendous amount of data needed to be more efficient in managing rations.
Here are some of the valuable insights to be gained:
1) Are the cows facing health issues?
By recording the amount of feed cows are eating, farmers are able to tell when cows are facing health challenges ahead of time. For example, if a string of cows is averaging 90 pounds of milk but they are consuming an average of 40 pounds of feed, this could indicate health issues. Another sign that cows are facing health issues is when they start to lose weight.
2) Are the rations optimal?
Amount of feed consumed is correlated with milk production. Feed efficiency can be calculated on a weekly basis. Therefore, if the rations are not efficient, proper adjustments can be made to help increase efficiency and profitability.
3) Rations adjustment improving yield?
When the cows' feed ration is adjust, the milk production typically goes up or down. With that being said, without knowing how much the cows ate, it is hard to determine whether changes in milk production is due to adjusting the ration or cows eating more.
4) Feeding the cows sufficiently?
By knowing how much your cows are eating, you would be able to calculate how much feed is needed by the cows. For example, by knowing that the cows are eating around 44 pounds of corn silage each day, it would be easier to manage inventories.
To record how much the cows are actually eating, farmers should note the starting weight of the mixed ration (TMR) and stop between each string or barn to record how much feed was delivered for each feeding. Individual string weight is crucial as you are able to find out what each pen is fed and in turn eating. Feed refusals or weigh backs should also be measured by string or barn prior to the next feeding as this allows coordination between the left over amount and original amount fed. It is recommended that each feeding is recorded and calculated weekly.