Higher milk production usually comes from increased dry matter intake, which, in turn, increases manure output. But you can reduce lagoon loads without sacrificing milk production, says Bill Weiss, a dairy nutrition specialist with Ohio State University.
- Increase the concentration of corn silage and decrease hay crop forage in your total mixed ration (TMR). "A 10 percentage unit increase in corn silage (as a percentage of forage) decreases manure output about 4 lb./cow/day,” Weiss says.
- A 1% increase in protein can increase manure output 2 lb./cow/day. Ensure adequate protein for the production level of your group, but don't offer protein in excess.
- A highly digestible ration reduces manure production. "A percentage unit increase in neutral detergent fiber concentration increases manure output 0.5 to 1 lb./cow/day,” Weiss says. Harvest and feed hay crop forage at an immature state and grow highly digestible corn hybrids for silage.
Weiss also notes that dry cows and replacement heifers produce a fourth of the manure on a typical dairy. Moving these animals to another site can reduce your lagoon load, and possibly hauling costs as well.
Limit-feeding heifers can reduce manure output 10% to 20%. On a whole-farm basis, however, that figure would probably be less than 5%.