Create the perfect dining experience for cows

On April 16th and 17th, 2015 ANC held their annual Spring National Sales Meeting for consultants and employees.  One of the key speakers at our conference was Dr. Heather Dann from the Miner Institute.  Her topic at the meeting, sponsored by Diamond V, was on time budgets and cow comfort economics for cows. Dr. Dann discussed creating the perfect dining experience for cows.  Believe it or not, this involves quite a lot of big picture management planning. Examples of factors associated with a “perfect dining experience” for cows include: Well-formulated, palatable ration Feed available when cows want to eat Adequate bunk space Feed barrier design Managing bunk competition to improve feed access Water availability No restrictions on resting activity Flooring Air quality So how can you get started on creating the perfect dining experience? Here is the recommended feeding management: Cows should have adequate access to stalls (overstocking upsets normal feeding behavior and can result in economic losses) Have feed available on demand Consistent feed quality/quantity along the bunk Have a bunk stocking density of less than 100% (greater than 24 in. per cow) TMR fed 2x/day For the first two hours after feeding, push up feed every ½ hour 3% refusal target Bunk empty for less than 3 hours per day Feeding TMR Twice a Day A feeding method that Dr. Dann discussed in her presentations was feeding TMR two times a day.  A 2013 study found that feeding cows twice per day versus once per day resulted in more feed availability throughout the day, less sorting against long particles, increased dry matter intake by 3.0 lb. per...

What to do on the day that just isn’t going your way

Growing up on a dairy farm, I know all too well that a good day can end up being a bad one in a matter of minutes.  Farming is tough.  The barn scraper breaks (again), a cow goes down, the heifers get out, equipment breaks down and the part you need isn’t at the local implement, your brand new employee backs the skid steer into a beam in the barn… you get the idea.  All of these examples are of course small ‘bumps in the road’ compared to major catastrophes that can happen to anyone.  Lately I have seen far too many headlines about barn fires and farm accidents.  When I see these headlines, they always make me stop and think. First I think about the people involved and I pray for them and their families.  Then I think about the bad day I may be having, and I start being thankful for the things that are still going right. Today was a perfect reminder of ‘one of those days that just isn’t going my way.’ The day started out like a normal Wednesday, and I was in a good mood.   I left my house with my lunch and purse in hand, shut the door and reached for the keys in my purse. They weren’t there.  And neither were my car keys.  I was locked out with no way to get in my vehicle or my house. We used to have a spare key hidden, but it had gotten lost in the snow this winter.  I looked around the wet, leafy backyard to try to find the key, but...