Sept. 5 2017 10:39 AM

The importance of the correct loading order for well-mixed rations

The information below has been supplied by dairy marketers and other industry organizations. It has not been edited, verified or endorsed by Hoard’s Dairyman.

Last year, dairy farmer Bert Versteeg's feed consultant pointed out that feed sorting could be reduced further despite their already good yield of 27 kg of milk per cow per day. That observation was the start of a valuable process that offered new insights and new habits.

A well-known phenomenon at many dairy farms is that cows move their noses through the feed in order to try and extract the tastiest feed. This is not a desirable situation. Dairy farmers spend a lot of time and money determining the best rations and sorting behavior may leave the most important components lying by the feeding fence. This behavior can have many consequences: lower feed efficiency, ruminal acidosis, reduced dry matter intake and other health problems. So how can we stop cows from sorting their food at the feeding fence? The answer is simple: an optimum mix quality.

The order in which the various feed components were loaded was mainly determined by the logistic organization of the farmyard and habit. The concentrate silos at Versteeg's farm are next to the shed where the mixer feeder wagon is stored. So he logically started by loading the relatively fine concentrate and then drove from the shed towards the grass and maize pits. With a few small adjustments, the rations are now much more thoroughly mixed. The cows are showing less sorting behavior. Versteeg: "After three months, we can certainly say that the recommendations are having a positive effect on the selection behavior and production."

Do you want to know which adjustments Versteeg has made for a better mix quality? Read his story here ...