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September 2011 Archive for Animal Health & Nutrition

RSS By: Rick Lundquist, Dairy Today

Rick Lundquist is an independent nutrition and management consultant based in Duluth, Minn. He provides livestock production advice.

Liquid Feeds Are a Good Fit

Sep 12, 2011

If you’re not already including a liquid feed in your ration, you might want to consider it to save money, reduce sorting, and enhance intake and production.

I use liquid feeds in most of my feeding programs. They are highly palatable, convenient and a good way to furnish sugar as well as other nutrients and additives.
Dr. Jeff Firkins recommends feeding 2.5% to 5.0% of the dry matter as sugar. If you include a liquid feed that contains 40% total sugars at 2.0 lb. of dry matter/cow/day in 50 lb. of dry matter, the liquid feed will supply 1.6% sugar in the total diet dry matter. Forages, citrus and beet pulp and other ingredients will also contribute sugar.
Sugar fed within guidelines does not depress milk fat, according to Firkins. Liquid feeds can stimulate dry matter intake, encourage more frequent meals and reduce sorting against forage and for fines. This can have a positive effect on milk and fat production.
Your nutritionist can determine whether a liquid feed fits in your particular rations. But, considering current energy and protein prices, liquid feeds are a pretty good buy in most situations. Molasses is the primary component of most liquid feeds. Condensed whey, corn steep liquor, distillers' solubles and other byproducts may be added. Liquid feeds will vary in sugar and protein content, but the dry matter content can be the biggest variable when comparing the value of a particular liquid feed.
I use liquid feeds to carry trace minerals and vitamins, urea, fat and some macro minerals such as phosphorus. Urea and phosphoric acid added to liquid feeds also reduce the viscosity, making for easier handling and mixing. In my book, it’s the safest way to add urea to a ration. Liquid feeds are also a good vector for carrying additives such as feed-through fly control compounds, liquid methionine and ionophores.  
I typically add the liquid feed to a grain premix or "farm premix" of the commodities on the dairy. It helps keep the other ingredients blended together and reduces dust. It’s best to have a boom attachment to distribute the liquid feed over the entire TMR mixer for good dispersion. Premixes will not heat or spoil due to addition of a liquid feed. However, it does tend to attract flies.
If you’re not already including a liquid feed in your ration, you might want to consider it to save money, reduce sorting, and enhance intake and production.
Reference: Jeffrey L. Firkins. Liquid Feeds and Sugars in Diets for Dairy Cattle. 2011 Florida Ruminant Nutrition Symposium Proceedings.
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