When Bad Things Happen to Good Rations


Rations are quantitative, as well as qualitative, in nature. The dairy nutrition models offer quantitative data. Models allow for precise utilization of nutrients, enhanced nutrient management and amino acid optimization. If the data that is input into the model is correct, the formulated ration is, theoretically, optimized for cow performance. Qualitative aspects arise with management, however, and can significantly impact even the best ration formulations.

Nine times out of 10, the problem with the ration” is not the model, but the management.

Bodyweight is the factor that makes the models work and is the most important metric. Using one cow to represent an entire herd is not going to get you the correct ration. Each pen should be represented by an average weight. Target weights for heifers play an important role in ration formulation and shouldn’t be overlooked. Dry matter and dry matter intake adjustments often get neglected. Improper results from dry matter determination can cause many ration concerns. Errors in calculating starch and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) levels often occur. Variables such as who enters the data, how many samples of each feed are taken, which feeds are analyzed and even the weather during sampling can all affect the dry matter calculations.

Management practices are the key to getting the most out of a properly formulated ration. If things aren’t going well, don’t blame the nutritionist. To read the full article on how management play a key role in making your ration work the best, click here.

Tags: Dairy Cow Diets, Rations