Dairy Event 2009: 85% of cow diets are poorly mixed

New research shows that 85% of cow diets are poorly mixed, having a significant impact on cow performance.

A survey of 105 farms by Frank Wright Trouw Nutrition found only 15% of farmers knew how to mix a ration properly. The other 85% experienced sorting problems, resulting in lower feed intakes and knock on effects on milk quality, fertility and lameness, said Frank Wright Trouw Nutrition technical director, John Allen at the Dairy Event and Livestock Show.

“A major concern if rations are not mixed properly is cows sorting the ration, picking out the high starch bits and leaving the fibre section of the ration. This is major risk factor for acidosis and can have knock on effects on performance,” he said.

The main stumbling blocks appeared to be with the length of time needed to mix the ration, order of loading, capacity of mixer wagons and untrained staff.

“For example, on some farms cow numbers will increase overtime and this may mean the capacity of the mixer wagon is no longer big enough for the herd size,” he said.

Dr Allen recommends following a step by step plan by regularly servicing the mixer wagon, training all staff, knowing the capacity of the mixer, mixing for at least 10 minutes, checking the physical ration following mixing and monitoring cow performance.

Order or loading is also important. “Following the manufacturers instructions for order of loading is important. However, if that fails include long fibre first, followed by cereal silage, concentrate feeds and blends, minerals and fats, moist ingredients and lastly grass silage – this order should work,” said Dr Allen.