One way to maximize dry matter intake is to offer feed early and often. Maddox Dairy, which milks 4,000 cows near Riverdale, Calif., feeds cows four times a day and pushes up feed six times.
The result: Average dry matter intake is 64 lb/cow/day. The herd averages 25,000 lb/milk/cow on 3X milking.
Bunks are also swept clean daily, and the orts are weighed back so that daily feed deliveries can be adjusted to cows' appetites and environmental conditions. "Weighbacks average about 3 lb./cow,” says Steve Maddox.
In the past, the weigh backs were fed to heifers or bulls on the dairy. But with the economy so tight, Maddox is now offering that feed to his tailend milking groups. The feed is 18% crude protein and 71% to 72% TDN.
Less costly feed is then fed to heifers and bulls. By feeding the weighbacks to tailend groups, Maddox estimates he's saving $25,000 per month in feed costs.