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Dairy Seasonal Reminders

April 29, 2022

By Lisa Davis,MS, QLF Dairy Product Manager

As the calendar turns to May, it is time to start thinking about summer! Summer’s harvest season brings in the next year’s forage crops.  The warm weather can present some feeding challenges too.  QLF can provide valuable benefits to help maximize summertime TMR efficiency.

The first forages of 2022 will be harvested soon! Although spring has had cool temperatures in many areas, early season small grain crops or winter cover crops have started to grow and will be harvested in the coming weeks (ryelage, oatlage, wheat silage, etc.).  These early season forages provide a great opportunity to add to the farms’ forage inventory in an economical manner, as well as provide valuable agronomic benefits for the soil.  Also, harvest timing of small grain forages in many areas provides flexibility for spring manure application, and facilitates double-cropping with corn silage, or soybeans, too!

  • Small grain silages are generally higher in NDF, and lower in NDF digestibility compared to corn silage. (Please see table below)  Diet NDF levels increase quickly when feeding small grain silages!  Lots of NDF can slow digestion, passage rates, and intakes.  Use sugars and proteins in QLF to stimulate forage digesting bacteria in the rumen, and improve digestibility, intakes, and milk!
  • Since small grain silages generally have lower starch and energy compared to corn silage, supplementation of additional carbohydrate is needed to provide extra energy to rumen microbes.  Sugars and NPN protein in QLF provide rapid energy and nitrogen to the rumen bugs to drive microbial protein production!
  • Recommended level of total sugar in the diet is 6.5-8.5% of DM, for optimal response from feeding supplemental sugar. Generally, 1.5 – 2.5 lbs of supplemental sugar is needed to reach this level.  When high levels of small grain silages are fed, and dietary starch levels are low, sugar levels may need to be toward the upper level of this range to maximize rumen digestion and microbial protein.  Feeding 4-6 lbs of molasses-based liquid supplement per cow per day also provides consistency and conditioning to the TMR, helping to encourage intakes and reduce ration sorting.

Here comes the hot weather…..is everything ready?

  • Assess intakes & intake consistency on all groups – especially dry and prefresh cows. Could they be eating more – is anything holding back the cows’ intakes?  Use QLF to help improve intakes and TMR consistency BEFORE hot weather arrives.  Getting the cows eating well will help prepare them for the challenges that hot weather brings!
  • Be sure to have current and accurate nutrient analyses on feeds & forages. Are all diets meeting target nutrient needs, as formulated?  Any adjustments needed based on feed and forage inventories, and current milk production (or growth)?  Use QLF to provide needed nutrients to maximize rumen efficiency & microbial protein production.  Remember, QLF Dairy Calcium suspension feeds are a convenient, palatable method to deliver and distribute macro- and micro-nutrients, vitamins, and additives throughout the TMR.  This helps ensure that each cow receives her micronutrients and additives every time she eats at the bunk.  Providing these small inclusion “goodies” through the QLF adheres them to the TMR particles, preventing the “goodies” from being left in the bunk through ration separation and sorting.  Achieving target micronutrient intake is especially important in the hot summer months when dry matter intake is challenged due to heat stress.
  • Heat stress cows can have a greater risk for sub-optimal rumen pH, due to fluctuations in DMI, and panting/ drooling that may alter acid/base balance. Sugars from molasses-based liquid supplements provide rapidly available carbohydrates in the rumen, but they do not have a negative impact on rumen pH.  Supplemental sugar is a “safe” carbohydrate to help maximize microbial yield and rumen efficiency.   Also, molasses-based liquid supplements reduce ration sorting, and encourage intake of long TMR particles, which helps to maintain a more optimal rumen pH for feed and fiber digestion.
  • Warm weather may “wake up” molds and yeasts in stored feeds. Monitor feeds and forages for quality, mold, yeast, and mycotoxins.  Elevated levels of mold, yeast, and mycotoxins can lead to reduced DMI and production.  QLF offers Kemin Industries’ Myco CURB and Ultra CURB for inclusion in QLF Dairy products, to deliver preservative to the finished TMR through QLF’s TMR Protector Program.  Please contact your QLF Representative for more information about the TMR Protector Program.

In summary, the warm weather and a new forage season are coming soon. Feeding QLF provides valuable benefits to help enhance rumen efficiency and maximize the productive value from the TMR in the warm summer months!  Please contact your QLF Representative for more information about feeding QLF!

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