Trace mineral supplementation in dairy rations

It has been a common practice to reduce the amount of trace minerals (VTM) in lower producing or late lactation cows because of the belief that these cows have a lower requirement than high producing cows. They do have a lower requirement, but not necessarily a lower concentration in their diet. These trace minerals include iron, manganese, zinc, copper, cobalt, chromium, and selenium. High producing cows (with higher dry matter intakes) can utilize more of the trace minerals from feedstuffs. Cows with lower dry matter intakes that are fed reduced levels of VTM do not have the same opportunity to make up the difference as higher producing cows. Post fresh cows fed a lactating diet but only consuming two thirds of the intake may be short of requirements. Here is what we need to do to ensure the cows are receiving the right levels of VTMs: Use wet chem analysis on forages to get accurate levels. Cobalt, chromium and selenium levels are not tested. High ash forages (soil contamination) may give higher levels of trace minerals, but they may not be as available. Other minerals, like high sulfur levels with copper, may be antagonistic and limit their absorption. This may require feeding higher levels to compensate, or using a more available source. Feed 1.2-1.5 times NRC requirements to ensure adequate levels. Diets are limited to .3 ppm added supplemental selenium. Selenium yeasts will have more available selenium than inorganic forms. Feeding bentonite can inhibit absorption and may require higher feeding levels. To answer the question, does it cost more to overfeed or underfeed trace minerals, the answer is to...

21 Tips for Automatic Milking Robot Success

Agri-Nutrition Consulting’s Dr. Anne Proctor and a robotic dairy owner, Keith Groshek give us insight on having a robotic farm. If you are thinking about installing one, make sure you’ve covered all of your bases and read up on the following tips and tricks.  1. Two to four robots or 1-2 pods is a good number for one or more full-time people to handle, but any more than 4 robots will most likely be too much work to keep up. 2. The first year of having robots is about learning how to be hands-on with the robots and training the cows how to properly use it. 3. When buying robots, choose a company that has a dealership in your area and service people who have experience with the system. In other words, have a technician nearby that can help you if something needs attention.   4. If you are going to invest in robots, then invest in building or remodeling a barn with excellent cow comfort. Make sure the facility is not limiting your success and the well-being of your herd. 5. Talk with others who have the system you are interested in to find out what they don’t like about it.  Robots solve some challenges on the dairy, but create others.  Know what you are getting into before committing. 6. You do not need all the bells and whistle to be successful. However, you need to know what types of machines and programs fit YOUR style and goals for you to be successful.   7. Educate yourself on computers and software and become comfortable with computers. 8. Have a personality that...