The What, Why, & How Behind Precision Feeding

(Part 1 of a 2-part series)

You may have heard the term “precision feeding,” but do you know exactly what it means and why it’s important to a dairy’s bottom line? Dr. Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois, tackled these questions and more in last month’s Hoard’s Webinar.


What is precision feeding?
Hutjens defines precision feeding as providing a consistent ration, consistent flow of nutrients through the rumen and digestive tract, and removing variation from the field to the bulk tank. 
Why is precision feeding important?
The cost of a lack of precision can be substantial. Hutjens provided these figures:

  • Weigh backs of 4% or 2 lbs. DM (22¢/cow/day)
  • Shift in 5% DM corn silage at 15 lbs. DM (5¢/cow/day)
  • Shrink loss of 10% feed (55¢/cow/day)
  • Overfeeding 1 lb. of protein supplement (21¢/cow/day)

How can I achieve precision feeding?
Hutjens identified these four areas as opportunities to “take control” of variation in a feeding program:
  1. Variation in the field – harvesting and chopping.
  2. Nutrient variation – feed ingredient selection and deviations in forage nutrients.
  3. Mixing variation – mixing time, overfilling, etc.
  4. Rumen variation – shifts in rumen pH, stabilization additives, etc.
Which of these areas has the greatest opportunity to improve profits?
What are the benefits of precision feeding?
Find out the answers to these questions in next week’s blog post!

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