Forages For the Farm: Building Rations for More Profit, Less Input

Forages for the Farm

Often, the solution to greater profit potential relates to the ration.

Focus on the key ingredient

Feed costs can be up to 65 percent of your dairy’s budget, and corn silage can be the largest ingredient and influencer in the ration. Explore your farm’s income over feed cost (IOFC) and use it as a key indicator of productivity. If your IOFC is low, it’s time to evaluate your ration and find ways to be more profitable. Rations built with low-lignin corn silage are more feed efficient because of improved fiber digestibility. With less lignin, rumen microbes digest the forage fiber more thoroughly and, with a faster rate of passage, more room is left for increased dry matter intake, leading to higher production per cow per day.

Keep in mind the importance of a well-balanced ration. Digestible fiber is important, but so is starch. Too much or too little of either can cause complications in your herd and lead to missed profit opportunities.

Watch the manure

Your cows will show the signs of an inefficient ration. If feed lacks sufficient effective fiber, it passes through the rumen too quickly. The result is loose, inconsistent manure. You can check manure a couple of ways to analyze your quality of silage.

Find solutions on your farm

Here are considerations to do more with less on the farm:

  • Feed homegrown forages
  • Evaluate your herd
  • Track your IOFC
  • Test your corn silage

Be proactive on your farm by consulting with your nutritionist and farm team to be more efficient and get the highest return on the work you put in with your herd.  

To read the full article out of Progressive Dairyman, click here.

Tags: Feeding Strategies, Forages