Doing what’s right for the cows. That mindset should be the guiding principle of every nutrition consultant. I often make the comment in my recommendations to dairy producers that I need to speak for the cows. After doing a herd walk-through or investigating a specific feed or management situation, I summarize the current situation, describe what we want to accomplish, and then explain why it is important to make that change. In other words, how will the cow benefit and what impact will that change have on the producer and profitability.
I don’t want to make it sound easy or that each case will result in a slam-dunk conclusion. For instance, I have spent multiple years trying to get one of my customers to improve the quality of haylage stored in his oxygen-limiting silos. The feed goes in the silo at high quality and in good shape, but often comes out with mold, toxins, or other storage challenges. Inoculants from competitors have been used on the farm for years. Unfortunately, many times the forage is stored at moisture levels too low for inoculants to work like they are designed to.
The compromised forage has often caused digestive upsets, sick cows, and reduced reproductive performance. Even though this farm is well managed and maintaining daily milk averages over 90 pounds a cow, the fact is this 330 cow farm has spent over $30,000 in a single year for toxin binders and gut health products to combat the issue of poorly stored feed. At some point enough is enough and someone has to speak for the cows!
Slight modifications to harvesting management have helped, but the real significant improvement will come from the use of a preservative rather than an inoculant in this unique facility and management situation. In this upcoming feeding season, we expect to eliminate the crusty, musty layers between crops and the poorly fermented areas in the silo that were compromised from exposure to oxygen or some other storage shortcoming. The long term solution and goal for this farm is to have a different forage storage system, but that is a few years away with our current dairy economy.
Many times our solutions include the use of any number of products available to us from Agri-Nutrition Consulting and the Nelson Family of Companies, but that may not be the case every time. When we approach these on-farm challenges with possible solutions that are right for the cow, right for the producer, and right for our company or business, in that order, everyone will benefit. I can’t think of any better way of GOING BEYOND NUTRITION THROUGH INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS.