TMR Sorting: A Vicious Cycle?

A ‘perfect’ total mixed ration (TMR) delivers a uniform ration so that every mouthful a cow consumes has the same nutritional content. When cows eat a consistent diet, the swings in rumen pH are minimized.  When fluctuations in rumen pH are minimized, the risk of subacute rumen acidosis (SARA) is reduced.  SARA occurs when rumen pH falls below 5.8.   The symptoms include reduced feed intake, lower milk component yield, and loose bubbly manure.  A cow that experiences multiple episodes of SARA has an increased risk of laminitis. Cows are clever animals. They are capable of sorting the ingredients in their TMR and eating the ones they prefer first.   A TMR can be compared to a Thanksgiving dinner. Cows, like people, prefer some feeds over other feeds and given a choice they will eat the ones they prefer first!  In general, cows favor grains and consume them before forages.   If a cow can separate the grain and the forage in her ration, she is likely to consume the grain component first.  Grains are high in fermentable carbohydrates.  If grains are the majority of what she eats, then her risk of SARA is increased. There is growing evidence that cows experiencing SARA may change their behavior to sort in favor of the longer forage particles.  A recent study at Penn State demonstrates this change in behavior. In this study, cows were offered two TMRs.  One of these rations consisted of longer forage particles and a slow fermenting starch source (LONG).   The second diet contained short forage particles and a fast fermenting starch source (SHORT).   Cows that were not experiencing acidosis consumed 18.6%...

2014: A Challenging Corn Silage Crop?

Corn silage is an attractive crop because of its yield potential and its ability to produce digestible fiber and starch.  Every crop year offers unique opportunities and challenges for feeding dairy cattle.  A variety of factors including planting dates, growing degree days, rainfall, maturity at harvest, and plant genetics impact the feeding characteristics of corn silage.    Tracking trends in the crop help to explain how it will feed and can be useful in understanding how to design rations that optimize income over feed cost. One of the best tools for explaining fiber digestibility is Total Tract NDF Digestibility (TTNDF).   In previous posts we have described TTNDFD and also how to use this tool to make a better ration. The graph below shows the TTNDFD of corn silage samples run at Rock River Laboratory, Inc. from the end of July through early October.  Silage samples submitted from July to early September were likely from the 2013 crop and samples taken in late September and early October are new crop samples.   The trend for new crop samples indicates the TTNDFD is lower in the new crop (except for the California samples).  The Ohio and Wisconsin new crop samples appear to be considerably lower than last year’s crop. Another important factor to consider is the range of TTNDFD in a given crop.  The graph below shows a “scatter plot” of TTNDFD values from individual corn silage samples.  This graph allows us to observe the tendencies among the samples with the highest TTNDFD as well as the average samples and lowest samples.  Several observations can be made from the graph below.  For Ohio...

ANC to Host Go Beyond Forum

On Wednesday, November 5th, 2014, Agri-Nutrition Consulting will bring together the innovators in the field(s) of amino acid nutrition and starch digestibility with key dairy professionals for the first Go Beyond Forum. The Go Beyond Forum is an invitation only dinner event that features the latest in dairy nutrition scientific advances and how to apply the science effectively on-farm. The Go Beyond Forum is officially sponsored by Jefo, with additional support from QualiTech, Form-A-Feed, Inc., Adisseo, Chr. Hansen, Diamond V, Lallemand, Alltech, Vi-Cor and Rock River Laboratory. The purpose of the Go Beyond Forum is to bring progressive-minded people together to discuss topics that are shaping the dairy nutrition industry and impacting the advice given to today’s progressive dairy farms.  Attendees will participate in presentations and discussions exploring the latest issues, developments, and technologies in the fields of amino acid nutrition and starch digestibility. Mike Van Amburgh, Cornell University, will present on the recent release of the CNCPS 6.5 biology.  Panelists for the Go Beyond Forum will include Dr. Jack Garrett – QualiTech, Rick Bonander – Adisseo, Dr. Patrick French – Feed Components, Dr. Tom Tylutki – AMTS, Drew Johnson – Agri-Nutrition Consulting, Dr. John Goeser – Rock River Laboratory, Inc., Courtney Heuer – Rock River Laboratory, Inc. and Dr. Randy Shaver – University of Wisconsin. “The goals of the Go Beyond Forum are to generate new ideas and to encourage each of us to “go beyond” what has traditionally been done to serve the needs of our clients.  We intend to accomplish these goals by facilitating discussion on leading edge topics in a manner that encompasses a diverse range of...