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7 Ways to Extend Forages during California's Drought

July 9, 2014
By: Catherine Merlo, Dairy Today Western and Online Editor google + 
Jersey cows feeding at California dairy 5 2014
Find new, often overlooked and probably local feeds and consider feeding more grain than you have in the recent past, says UCCE's Peter Robinson.  

Try these tips to get through this year’s short water supplies and high-priced feeds.

As California’s extended drought limits both water and feed supplies for the state’s dairies, producers must be open to new feeds as well as new feeding practices and strategies.

That’s the advice of Dr. Peter Robinson, dairy nutritionist with the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), who offered several ways for dairy producers to extend their forage supplies and avoid the need to purchase more. Robinson spoke yesterday in Modesto, Calif., at a drought assistance workshop presented by the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program.

To prevent losses of forage and other feeds they have already purchased, Robinson suggested:

1. Go all out to reduce silage shrink.

  • Use lactic acid additives in cereal and alfalfa silage, but not in corn silage.

  • Double-cover silage piles using inner thin plastic. "This has a very substantial, positive effect on reducing shrink," he said.

  • Cover piles within 12 hours of harvest. For large piles, cover as you go.

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