Feed plays an important role to the performance of the herd. Quality feed ingredients are crucial as the basis for ration development. However, there is a rise in cost of many feedstuff and ingredients which caused quality feed ingredients to be replaced by cheaper, lower quality alternatives.
There are many problems if feed fed to cows are not of high quality. You might be able to reduce cost and increase profits today but it can be problematic in the long run. The negative impact on production along with added herd health problems, far outweighs the initial investment in feeding high quality ingredients.
Here are some of the challenges of monitoring feed ingredient quality:
1) Different loads everyday
Loads delivered to the farm can be from different mills from one day to next.
It is often difficult to know the feed's origin.
This makes it difficult for nutritionists to accurately balance the ration accounting for nutrient quality.
2) Long feedback time
One of the biggest problem faced by farmers is going through a whole load of feed ingredients in one day.
By the time cows are dropping in production or if there are any health issues, the feed is already consumed and the negative aftermath can last for a long time.
3) Very little information known
Often times, feed ingredient suppliers will only provide guarantee nutrition information for 3 nutrients: protein, fiber and fat.
This makes it difficult to ascertain the quality.
If a product is added to the ration because it offers high starch levels, the nutritionists may not know the quality or the amount of starch in the product since the information is not required.
Hence, it is important for the farmers to work with feed supplier that have done extensive research on their products so that the nutritionists will understand how does the product impact milk production and animal health.
4) Change without notification
Often times, feed ingredients and processes are changed without the farm being notified.
If there are any changes in the mill's procedures or quality, it will have drastic effects on the milk production.
5) Variation is the enemy of cows
Small changes to the daily ration can have huge impact on milk production and animal health.
It is important to eliminate any ration variation which can be accomplished by working with feed suppliers that provide consistently formulated, high quality ingredients to the dairy cows.