Margaret Winsryg is a technical support specialist with Calibrate® Technology. Margaret holds a Bachelor’s Degree in animal health science, a Master’s Degree in ruminant nutrition from the University of Arizona, and a Ph.D. in animal science nutrition from Utah State University.
Take feed testing to a new level
Oct 01, 2013
A number of traditional lab tests exist to help you analyze the nutritional value of forages and other key ingredients in dairy diets.
For example, it’s customary for nutritionists to submit forage samples for a crude protein analysis or to request the starch and fiber levels of a particular feed. Nutritionists and dairy producers turn to these values to help them formulate diets and make decisions that will help them boost intakes and milk yield.
While knowing these values is important to ration management, it’s time to kick feed testing up a notch and monitor not only the nutrient content of feedstuffs in the ration, but also how well the rumen digests those nutrients.
Knowing the ruminal digestibility of key nutrients, like starch and fiber, offers several advantages.
A rumen digestible starch test estimates how much starch is present in a feed like corn silage, and takes it one step further by estimating how degradable that starch is so you have a better idea of how available it is to the cow. This is powerful information for managing your rations.
For example, if rumen digestible starch testing reveals that one or more starch sources in the ration is low, it can be both safe and desirable to increase dietary starch levels.
Fiber digestibility testing also is advantageous to ration decision-making, particularly when you are feeding a high-forage diet. Customarily, a high-forage diet could have a lower energy density. However, this diet can still address many dairy objectives such as increasing feed efficiency especially in the late lactation cows and possibly growing heifers. If forage is going to be short in supply this year, knowing the digestibility of that fiber can help address those shortages.
Take feed testing to the next level. Know the ruminal digestibility of key nutrients like starch and fiber and use that knowledge to enhance existing diets and unlock opportunities to get more milk from your cows.