When Bad Things Happen To Good Rations
When cows are not performing the way they should, ration is often blamed. Before you make any changes to the ration, it is a good idea to analyse what is happening to the ration.
Often times, the problem with the ration is with the management, not the model.
Bodyweight is the factor that makes the models work and it is the most important figure.
It is easy for nutritionist to misjudge the bodyweight.
Using one cow to represent the entire herd would not give you accurate results. Each pen should have an average weight.
Target weights for heifers play an important role in the ration formula and should not be overlooked.
Dry matter and dry matter intake adjustments are also very important.
Other variables such as who enters the data and how many samples of each feeds are taken and which feeds are analysed are equally important
While it is important to increase efficiency and decrease variability in feeding, there are many ways which the actual ration fed can vary significantly from the ration formulation.
Management should strive to make the system so easy and intuitive that anyone can follow.
Many factors affect consistency such as improper maintenance of equipment.
Human error also plays a role in inconsistent mixing of rations.
It is also important to measure ration samples using tools such as Penn State particle separator before the cows eat to help determined if the ration is properly being mixed.
Cow refusals could mean spoilage issues. Make sure there is sufficient fresh feed available at all times.
Sorting could also cause problems as the cows are not consuming the optimal amount of fiber formulated.
Manure analysis can help determined what is being digested or not.
Cow's comfort is crucial to rumination.
It is important to reduce stress and keep the cows physically and mentally healthy.
A healthy and happy cow will produce more milk.
Any change in the environment such as stalls, bedding, temperature can all affect the performance of the cows even if ration stays the same.
Proper management practice is crucial to get the most out of a formulated ration.
The way to manage a ration problem is to recognised the negative impact of inconsistency and strive to reduce variability.