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Feeding for minimized sorting

Patz Vertical Mixers deliver a thorough, consistent TMR
that cows can’t get enough of! 

Every cow in a pen should receive the same, high-quality TMR whenever she approaches the feedbunk. However, this is not always the reality. Without careful bunk management, the last cows to eat are left with a sorted ration consisting of hay stems, corn silage stalks and cobs. Consuming these “leftovers” can result in reduced DMI, intake variation, and slug feeding. When a cow’s core nutritional requirements are not met, milk production suffers. 

 
To minimize sorting, the TMR delivered must be consistently mixed, have the proper chop length of forages and the proper amount of ration moisture. Once a high-quality TMR is achieved, the next step is to make sure that every cow has the opportunity to eat it. 
 
Pushing out the feedbunk on a consistent basis helps keep the TMR fresh throughout the day. Nutritionist Jess Argyle recommends that the fresh and close-up cow pens are pushed out every day before new feed is delivered. Cows are constantly moving in and out of these pens, making them more difficult to read. For the lactating cow pens, he recommends feeding to a tight bunk with 2-5% pushouts as-fed. This requires that feed be pushed out every 3-4 hours. In doing this, daily DMI intakes will be more consistent and reading the bunks will be easier. Plus, the pushouts can be fed to other groups such as far-off dry cows or pregnant heifers. 
 
If feedbunks are not pushed out frequently, there can be a buildup of sorted and foreign materials. When fresh feed is placed on top, there will likely be a decrease in DMI and an increase in sorting of the fresh TMR. Another issue is that feed buildup will heat up, spoil, and sometimes mold. Pushouts are usually too poor in quality to feed to other groups so they must be discarded. 
 
Put simply, the key to minimized sorting is to feed your herd a fresh, well-mixed, high-quality TMR. Your cows will thank you with better milk production and a better bottom line.

 
Source: “Manage feedbunk for consistency” article by Jess Argyle. Progressive Dairyman website: www.progressivedairy.com. Retrieved on December 14, 2011.
 
 

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