Maximizing the Feed Management Program
CALS Impact Statement
This project provided, to those responsible for dairy cattle feeding, background information and tools necessary to maximize the productivity and health of the herd, minimize forage waste, and enhance farm profitibility.
Feeding management on the dairy has progressed beyond the "paper ration" provided by the nutritionist. Many "non-nutritional" reasons exist for failure of the formulated feeding program. These reasons are not always obvious or in agreement with long-held practices. The economic penalty suffered by poor management practices is insidious and not viewed as directly out of pocket. All dairy farms have opportunity in this area either by forage conservation, lessening energy use, or increasing herd health.
This program was designed for both classroom and hands-on practical experience. Highlighting research and field trial information gave a persuasive arguement for changing the status quo. On the first day, successes and weaknesses of the host farm were illustrated. Demonstrations of sampling and evaluating forages were followed by participants practicing these methods using forage samples from their own farms. A farm walk-around with the feed manager and consultant completed the concept of integrating feed and other management. The day involved troubleshooting on two dairies. The participants used a investigative checklist and the farm`s stated opportunity areas to gather information. This data was later analyzed and presented to farm management as a critque.
Participants generally reported better understanding of their jobs and more enthusiasm. Farms sponsoring employees to the program noted better quality control and less "shrink" of feed inventories by attendees. Host and case farms appreciated the review and often critical insight into their feed management practices; less waste, better quality forages, healthier animals, and less environmentally challenging material to deal with.