feed wagon and cows

Sometimes we are blind to opportunities before us, especially in areas we work around everyday.

The effectiveness of a total mixed ration (TMR) revolves around its ability to integrate all the cow's requirements in a well-mixed, succinct package. To be an asset to the dairy, TMRs must deliver this perfectly formulated package to each cow uniformly. Many obstacles ranging from poor storage to inadequate mixing to economic inefficiencies can keep a feeding program from performing at its premier level.

"Managing feedbunks for consistent intakes by all cows in the pen is the ultimate goal of implementing precision feeding," said Virginia Ishler, a Penn State University extension dairy specialist.

In order to meet this goal, she suggests farms implement regular TMR audits to ensure cows are ingesting everything you and your nutritionist intend. A TMR audit should be conducted by an independent party and analyze all parts of the feeding process, including feed storage and preparation, ration mixing and delivery, ingredient variation and shrink, and labor and resources utilization.

An effective TMR audit does not end when the auditor steps off the property.

Ishler recommends scheduling an opportunity to review the results and priorities with that person. Following the meeting, the producer should meet with farm employees to go over the results and determine changes to protocols when needed. Finally, producers should monitor the consistency of the TMR in the bunk regularly and record and investigate human or mechanical issues when discrepancies arise.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2016

January 25, 2016

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