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Forages

Forages are the foundation of diets for ruminant animals, and a focus on quality forage is essential to productivity and profitability of dairy farms.

Forage Quality

The Forage and TMR Particle Separator was designed to help in determining the correct forage particle length needed to improve ruminant nutrition.

Discussion of factors affecting forage fiber digestion in dairy cows, including dry matter intake; the interaction of concentrates and other fiber sources in the ration with forage sources; processing and particle size of forages; and influences of fiber digestibility on performance and milk components.

Particle size evaluation tools are described and demonstrated in a series of brief videos.

There are several methods used to measure forage particle size. Each has a role in helping us understand the effects of particle size on the dairy cow. In this video Dr. Jud Heinrichs describes and demonstrates the use of the Penn State Particle Separator, which is a popular method for on-farm determination of particle size.

American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE). There are several methods used to measure forage particle size. Each has a role in helping us understand the effects of particle size on the dairy cow. In this video Dr. Jud Heinrichs describes and demonstrates the use of the ASABE Particle Separator, which is the standard method for determination of particle size.

There are several methods used to measure forage particle size. Each has a role in helping us understand the effects of particle size on the dairy cow. In this video Dr. Jud Heinrichs describes and demonstrates the use of the Ro-Tap Particle Separator, which is the method originally used to develop the concept of physically effective fiber.

There are several methods used to measure forage particle size. Each has a role in helping us understand the effects of particle size on the dairy cow. In this video Dr. Jud Heinrichs describes and demonstrates the wet sieving technique used by Penn State researchers to determine the particle size of high-moisture samples, such as rumen digesta or feces.

Silage

Ensiled forages are the most common feeds used on the dairy farm. The objective of this document is to provide practical information by which silage quality and feeding management may be evaluated to determine its potential role in production or health problems on the dairy farm.

Cet article inclut: l’évaluation sensorielle e l’ensilage de maïs, la composition chimique de l’ensilage, les caratéristiques physiques de l’ensilage, et les utilisations possibles du séparateur de particules PennState.

This video explains the principles and practices involved in making high-quality silages to feed to today’s high-producing dairy herds. This video details specific factors that the dairy producer controls in producing good silage and the steps that are involved in the silage fermentation process. Specific segments address the various types of silage that are commonly fed and the major types of silo structures used, including recommended silage dry matter and particle size for each structure type. DVD Format. English and Spanish versions available.

High-level management and sizeable financial outlays are necessary to efficiently produce, harvest, store, and feed silage. The following information should enable more effective decisions in the harvesting, managing, and feeding of silage.

Cutting corn silage higher can increase silage quality because the lower part of the crop is poorly digestible, but this can also reduce yield. Is the improved quality large enough to offset the yield loss and further increase the profitability of the dairy? What factors should be considered before choosing to cut corn higher? The objective of this publication is to provide some insight into these issues.

Excel Spreadsheet Tools

The Batch Mix spreadsheet was designed to provide a simple method of adjusting the amount fed as the dry matter of forages changes. Instructions for using the spreadsheet are described in this article.

Microsoft Excel, 51.6 kB

The Batch Mix spreadsheet was designed to provide a simple method of adjusting the amount fed as the dry matter of forages changes. This spreadsheet also contains instructions for determining forage dry matter using a microwave. Users can enter ration ingredients for up to 4 different rations, then adjust forage dry matter or number of cows in the group and print an updated feed sheet.

Instructions for using the TMR Mix Sheet spreadsheet to assist in accurately mixing total mixed rations (TMR). The spreadsheet allows users to enter nine rations for various animal groups and print mix sheets according to cow number, batch size, or percent of mix.

Microsoft Excel, 211.2 kB

The Penn State TMR spreadsheet allows the user to create rations, mix sheets, batch size and feed costs for up to nine rations for the whole herd.

Instructions for using the Enterprise Budget to develop production budgets, breakeven returns, and pricing for corn grain and silage.

Microsoft Excel, 106.6 kB

This Excel spreadsheet estimates production budgets and costs for corn grain and silage (with dry matter and net energy adjustments) based on tillage practices.

Microsoft Excel, 59.7 kB

The Nitrate Calculator automates the calculation of nitrate intake from feed and water sources, includes a suggestions for ration adjustments to limit nitrate intake, and provides assistance in converting between various expressions of nitrate concentration.

Mycotoxins, Nitrates and Other Toxicity Problems

Depending on its severity, nitrate toxicity can cause reduced performance or serious illness and death. This article examines the many complex factors contribute to toxicity and provides recommendations for testing and feeding forages with high nitrate content. A companion spreadsheet (Nitrogen Calculator) calculates total nitrate intake from feed and water and provides recommended adjustments to forage feeding levels to prevent toxicity.

Weather conditions during growing and harvesting seasons may appreciably increase the incidence and degree of moldy feed and mycotoxin problems from year to year. Visibly moldy feed may be free of mycotoxins, yet feed that looks fine can harbor mycotoxins that may cause production and health problems. This article explores effects of mycotoxins on animals, testing feeds for toxins, and strategies for dealing with contaminated feeds and limiting mycotoxin production.

Drought and Forage Shortages

Drought presents the dairy producer with some major challenges. Both quantity and quality of forage are often compromised, and acceptable substitutions must be found to provide enough forage for all animals. Drought also increases the risk of nitrate and prussic acid accumulation.

Shortages of home-grown forages on dairy farms can occur because of drought or other adverse conditions. Filling the forage gap may require several strategies, such as reducing forage intakes and purchasing additional forage or high-fiber feedstuffs. Economics and the nutritional value of potential feed ingredient sources should be considered when developing a plan.

Microsoft Excel, 89.4 kB

The Feed Value Calculator spreadsheet calculates the value of various forages and concentrates using Petersen's constants. Values for forage are based on the price of corn, soybean meal, and average quality alfalfa hay. Values for concentrates are based on the price of corn and soybean meal. Users enter these prices and the feed value ($/ton) is calculated. Feed values can then be compared to market prices for ingredients.