Crucial to Correctly  Mix Feed Rations for Cows

CORRECTLY BLENDING a total mixed ration can boost margin over purchased feed by up to half, according to Kingshay nutritionist Malcolm Graham.

It is easy to spend a fortune on feed, but when it’s not properly mixed cows sift through it and eat selectively, resulting in poor condition and performance, said Mr Graham.

He recently advised one farm to change its ration and the way it was mixed, boosting yields by 4.3 litres a day and margin over purchased feed by 48%, or £1100 a day for a 250-cow herd.

The Staffs-based farm was experiencing poor fertility and feed intakes, with milk protein at just 2.98%. “There were clear signs of digestive stress, with massive variation in muck, low levels of cudding, poor condition post-calving and poor respiration,” he said.

The original diet, which included an expensive compound, was changed to include straw, more caustic wheat and a wider range of ingredients replacing the compound. But although the cows” condition did improve, there were still signs of digestive stress, said Mr Graham.

So he decided to use a Penn State Separator to examine the ration structure. This four-layer sieve showed the ration contained too much bulky dry matter and observation of cows revealed they were sifting through the ration.

An extra two minutes of mixing in the feeder wagon ensured particles were no longer than 5cm or 7.5cm, resulting in a more even blend which cows could not sift through. Cow digestion is now more even and fertility and yields have improved, he said. Yields have risen to 30.3 litres a day and protein to 3.26%.