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One of the great things about utilizing a vertical mixer is the ability to have alternative feeds incorporated into your TMR. Using by-products from your farm, feed waste, or commodity, you can supplement a portion of your herd’s TMR with a much cheaper ingredient. These are often less expensive because they can be bought in bulk or directly purchased from the source.
Feeding these items in a TMR masks the flavor of less palatable feeds. A vertical mixer will process ingredients into smaller pieces and blend them together to create a consistent mix. With a properly mixed TMR, your cows will not be able to snoop around with their noses and sort out the “good stuff”.
Of course, you need to work with your nutritionist to ensure your herd won’t be missing any vital nutrients or energy that would lower milk production. Measure the overall nutritional composition of the feed and adjust as needed.
Alternative items to add to your TMR include wet brewers/distillers grain, bakery products (stale items), candy, pasta, and even pizza crusts.
“Total Mixed Rations for Dairy Cows” PennState Extension
“Use of Commodity Ingredients for Dairy Cattle” PennState Extension
We know that nutrition plays a tremendous role in milk production of your dairy herd. Without the proper calories, fibers, and nutrients, animals are not at their optimal level to produce efficiently.
However, there are other factors that influence milk production also.
Genetics: Different breeds of cattle produce milk at different rates. Not only does production vary between breeds, but the level of quality with their milk is diverse as well.
Reproduction: The age a heifer is chosen to first calf plays a part in the overall lifetime production. The younger the animal, the more opportunity they have throughout their life cycle to produce milk. This also varies depending on how long you choose to keep cows dry for.
Environment: From macro to micro, the environment your herd lives in influences milk yield. The general climate of the area you live in can stress cows out if the weather is too hot or too cold. Inside the barn, animals need enough room to lay around and chew cud. Keeping the stalls freshly bedded and alleys clean help to reduce the number of bacteria in the barn to avoid infection or sick animals.
Even within herds containing a similar genetic base and eating the same ration, there were differences in milk production between animals. A study done in Spain showed that the presence or absence of feed refusals and whether feed was pushed up in the feed bunk influenced yield.
“Key Factors Affecting Milk Production and Quality.” Jacoby.com
There are so many vertical TMR mixers on the market today, how do you know which to choose? A lot of vertical mixers look similar, and even have the same suppliers for some components. So, what is the big difference between them? The inside design of the machine controls how well it mixes.
When buying a vertical feed mixer, you are buying a complete system. The difference between each mixer brand is the design of the tub and the vertical screw (auger). For example, the Patz vertical mixer has a precision fitted screw (Vortex® or Tru Taper™) inside of a proportional tub. The feed gets lifted onto the screw deck and travels up the auger to be mixed together. The vertical relief design helps with the mixing process. The tapered sidewall works in conjunction with the patented contoured baffles to help feed mix together by lifting and falling.
In non-performing mixers, feed movement slows and then stops first at the cyclical transition from the tub end to the sidewall, visible as “dead spots”. As the mixer fills, dead spots expand into the mixing tub ends to restrictors. This stagnant area stops feed from being processed and mixing together. While mixing, your feed should move like a “rolling boil” – a Patz signature effect.
Patz Balanced Flow™ Technology is engineered to blend a consistent TMR by emphasizing:
• RUMEN HEALTH: Thorough mix
• BALANCED NUTRITION: Minimize sorting
• PHYSICALLY EFFECTIVE FIBER: Uniform processing/ particle size
• TRUE TUB SIZE: Batch/Volume Versatility (33%-99%) Struck Volume
• PROCESS BALES: Round/Square, Wet or Dry
• FAST MIXING: Payloader-Pace; 3-5 minute per ingredient
• ACCURACY: Pen/lot nutrition delivery
• RATION INTEGRITY: Minimize mix carry over
• INGREDIENT CONTROL: Put nutrients where needed
Check out this time-lapse video that shows the Patz “rolling boil” effect.