Although the (“official”) first day of winter is still nearly two weeks away, many of us have already gotten our first glimpses of winter weather, and with that comes a reminder to get your winter feeding plan in place.
While feeding plans can vary from region to region and even farm to farm, there are five main steps that should be taken to establish an effective feeding program for your operation:
- Evaluate your feed. Take inventory your feed and decide whether you need to purchase additional ingredients. Determine the nutritional value of your feed ingredients with forage samples. Averaging the result of multiple samples throughout the season will provide more accurate results than a single sample will.
- Balance your rations based on your current inventory and forage nutritional value. Be sure to consider dry matter content and prices of purchased ingredients in your calculations.
- Review feeding practices with your staff. Ensure rations are mixed and delivered consistently, clean water is available, feed bunks are in good, clean condition, and your TMR mixer is serviced per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Tip to Patz equipment users: Contact your local Patz Dealer today to schedule a mixer checkup and inquire about their preventative maintenance services.
- Consult with nutritionists. Work with your nutritionist and veterinarian to determine what’s best for your herd.
- Plan ahead. Start making preparations for next year. Determine what crops will be planted or purchased, and research recent advancements in feeding practices and harvesting technology.
Source: “Checklist for the Top 5 Priorities for Fall/Winter Dairy Feeding Programs.” Extension.org