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Get What You Pay For in Your Herd’s Feed

November 22, 2013

It’s essential to make sure the rations you receive include the feed ingredients you purchased.

Elliot Block RGBBy Dr. Elliot Block, Research Fellow, Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition

To ensure ration consistency, performance and herd productivity, it’s essential to make sure the rations you receive include the feed ingredients you purchased.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case because product swaps-outs occur for a variety of reasons. These changes can result in feeding a ration that does not match the formulated ration, which can cause animal health and performance issues and may negatively affect your bottom line.

Talk It Over
To avoid these potential swap-outs, it’s important to communicate clearly and specifically about exactly what the ration should include for each and every batch of feed mixed and fed on your dairy.

For instance, if the diet is to include a specific brand-name product, everyone who has a hand in delivering the feed must know the ration is to include the specific ingredient not just the generic name, like stabilized potassium carbonate versus a commercial potassium supplement, for example.

When considering feed ingredients, keep the following factors1,2 in mind so that rations deliver on expectations:

• Understand how the ingredient works in the cow and investigate ingredient palatability and expected animal response.

• Avoid duplicating technologies when selecting ingredients. Also, discover which group or groups of animals respond best to the ingredient and make sure their ration contains that specific ingredient.

• Feed reputable, research-proven products. Examine the data so that you select ingredients based on proven research and not simply on testimonial input.

• Make sure the research was conducted on dairy cows (or heifers), and examine the details of the trial to make sure it’s a fair comparison.

• Check the P value (Probability) of trial outcomes to ensure statistically validated results. For example, a P value of <0.05 means there is less than a 5% probability that the response difference between two treatment groups was due to a random reason.

• Look for repeatable results from multiple trials and experiments.

• Monitor cows. Track key factors like milk component production, body condition, reproductive parameters, overall herd health and/or heifer growth to determine whether the ingredient is worthy of your ration.

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