No dairy farm is exactly the same. Neither should the ration or its ingredients. Dado Dairy Consulting is focused to achieve farm-specific goals while maximizing income over feed costs. The strategies we use are founded in science and result in healthy and productive cows.
Focus on Forage
Forage quality is the foundation of any good ration. We work with farms, agronomists, custom harvesters and commodity brokers to ensure the best quality forages are available to be used in our rations. Forage also represents a low-cost energy source in the ration which helps to maximize income over feed cost. Cow health and production is also bolstered by high-forage rations.
Power in Protein
Ruminants pose a challenge when it comes to protein nutrition. Microbes, which grow and reproduce while fermenting feed in the rumen, provide protein to the animal when the microbes are washed from the rumen into the intestines. These microbes can contribute the majority of the protein required by the cow. Therefore, when balancing rations, we focus to maximize microbial protein production and use protein supplements to fill in the remaining requirements. Canola, soybeans, corn by-products, animal processing by-products, and rumen protected amino acids are all common feeds used in the Midwest. These feeds are balanced to achieve the optimal metabolizable amino acids levels and ratios.
Ensure Proper Energy
Cows require energy to maintain themselves, reproduce, and to produce milk. The energy can be provided through multiple avenues. Generally, forages, grains, and fats are the largest energy sources for cows. The microbes in the rumen ferment these feeds contribute to volatile fatty acids (VFAs). In turn, VFAs are converted into substrates used by the cow for energy. Energy requirements depend on stage of production and production level. To maximize IOFC, we focus on matching energy in the diet to the energy requirements of the cow.
Dairy farms are becoming increasingly tech savvy. Technology is being used in our feed centers, in our barns, and in our parlors. As a nutritionist, the goal is to leverage the full capacity of these tools and use them to aid in our nutrition and management decisions.
There are several software tools available to aid in the feeding, tracking, and control of the feed center on a dairy. The industry does a great job using these tools to help in the process of mixing and delivering feed. Beyond this, there is room for growth in how we use feed software. First, we must be tracking feed inventory, feed usage, and weighbacks. Doing this helps generate accurate dry matter intakes which is used to optimize feed usage and ration balancing. Second, we need to track the efficiency of mixing and operation of the feed center. The feed center has, in many cases, millions of dollars worth of feed passing through it on a yearly basis. To ensure we are maximizing the efficiency of the nutrition program, we need to track the true costs associated with its implementation.
Activity and Rumination Software
Activity and rumination softwares are becoming more common on dairies in the midwest. They are often used to monitor cow health and as tools in reproduction programs. Yet, there are functions within the software which can be used in our nutrition programs. We can track and instantly gauge how cows respond to nutrition changes and alert the team to potential issues. We can also monitor the transition cows as they are moved from pen to pen and ration to ration.