The best times to push up feed

Posted on March 21, 2023 in Dairy Performance
By Jon Rasmussen | Research has shown reduced sorting, elevated lying times, positive milk responses, and enhanced milk component responses are all possible with more feed deliveries and feed pushups. One of the simpler technologies we can use in observing feedbunk behavior and feed pushups is a time-lapse camera, which allows us to observe cows at a distance.

Cold weather stresses cows too

Posted on January 31, 2023 in Dairy Performance
By Barry Visser | This winter has presented us with nearly every weather scenario possible: fluctuating barometric pressures, bitter cold temperatures and wind chills, and mild temperatures with rain, ice, and fog. These changing weather systems have an impact on dairy cows and milk production. There are a few management considerations to minimize the impact of cold stress on milk production.

Benchmarking survey helps farms evaluate IOFC

Posted on January 3, 2023 in Dairy Performance
By Stacy Nichols | Because feed represents more than 50% of the cost of milk production, dairy producers often ask how their feed costs compare to those of other farms.  As markets change, it’s important to regularly evaluate feed costs, ask whether you’re getting acceptable returns on your farm’s feed additives and dietary strategies, and explore whether you have opportunities to save on feed costs or invest in milk production for a greater return. With these questions in mind, Vita Plus dairy nutritionists recently conducted a benchmarking analysis survey of income over feed cost (IOFC) with 35 Holstein dairy herds in Michigan and Indiana.

9 critical control points for TMR consistency

Posted on December 7, 2022 in Dairy Performance
By Dr. David Carlson | The feeding process requires skill and attention to detail to deliver a high-quality, uniform ration to all cows within a pen. The following nine critical control points can help you achieve TMR consistency.

Don’t miss the chance to make good silage

Posted on August 30, 2022 in Dairy Performance
By Barry Visser | Most corn planting happened two to four weeks later than normal thanks to April rains and below-average temperatures. Despite the later spring, corn silage harvest is just around the corner, and for a few in outlying areas, it has already begun. A few strategies can help determine when to hit the fields and how to put up the highest quality forage possible.

Growing a forage program from the ground up

Posted on July 20, 2022 in Dairy Performance
Steve Murty, Vita Plus forage specialist, discussed four steps to grow a forage program during his Vita Plus Midwest Dairy Conference presentation.

7 considerations when formulating the heifer’s first TMR

Posted on April 13, 2022 in Dairy Performance
By Dr. Lucas Mitchell On many farms, a TMR presents an effective and efficient way to provide heifers with a complete and balanced ration.  However, if formulated improperly, TMRs can be detrimental to heifer growth and development.  Put the following seven concepts to work to ensure effective formulation of the heifer’s first TMR.

Making sense of milk fatty acid results

Posted on March 30, 2022 in Dairy Performance
By Stacy Nichols Has your processor offered your farm milk fatty acid analysis?  Milk fatty acids can be economically analyzed with mid-infrared technology, and many processors are beginning to offer this service to farms.  Here’s an overview of milk fatty acids to help you interpret the results.

9 best practices when renewing or adopting feed management technology

Posted on March 22, 2022 in Dairy Performance
By Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus dairy technology specialist Renewing or adopting feed management technology on your farm does not have to have to be a stressful process.  These nine steps can help simplify the process, clarify your goals and determine what system best meets your needs.

The fall milk slump is still real

Posted on November 1, 2021 in Dairy Performance
Many areas have experienced their first frost of the season or will in the days ahead. For cows, these cooler temperatures are welcome following a summer with near-record heat across much of the Midwest. Despite the more ideal temperatures for cows, farmers find themselves disappointed with milk production this time of year.

What’s the goal? More milk or reduced purchased feed costs?

Posted on September 29, 2021 in Dairy Performance
You’ve likely been told “variety A will produce more milk than variety B” when choosing your forage crop varieties. However, it usually doesn’t work exactly that way in the real world.

6 steps to get the most from your corn silage

Posted on August 9, 2021 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Michelle Chang-Der Bedrosian
High purchased feed costs mean farms must get as much nutritional value as possible from their homegrown forages. These six steps can help you put up high-quality feed while limiting your potential for shrink and spoilage.

You get what you pay for when it comes to forage inoculants

Posted on June 30, 2021 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Michelle Chang-Der Bedrosian
Not all bacterial strains with the same name behave the same, and not all inoculants will provide the same level of quality and effectiveness.  Price will always be a consideration when purchasing a forage inoculant, but, before you purchase inoculant based on price alone, take a moment to understand the amount of research and money that goes into creating and marketing a viable forage inoculant.

How to introduce forages to youngstock

Posted on June 14, 2021 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Lucas Mitchell
I am often asked, “How should forages be introduced to youngstock?”   My answer:  "It depends."

When we are raising calves, I think it is important to recognize this as a two-step process.  Step 1: Turn them into ruminants.  Step 2: Let them be ruminants.  Forages may play a role in step 1 and they certainly play a role in step 2.

Fatty acid feeding strategies in a high-cost market

Posted on May 28, 2021 in Dairy Performance

By Marin Western
It’s no surprise to anyone that supplemental fat prices have followed all other feed prices and continue to jump.  We can target ratios of individual fatty acids for specific groups of cows, save some money where possible and limit potential loss caused by eliminating fat from all diets. The ultimate question then becomes:  Who gets the fat I am willing to buy?  Here's how I rank importance of supplementation.

Doubling down on homegrown proteins

Posted on May 11, 2021 in Dairy Performance

By Steve Murty
Feed prices have increased substantially in recent months.  Further complicating the cost situation, the winter storm that blew through Texas froze water pipes and natural gas lines, which created a short-term deficiency of feed-grade urea.  These two unpredictable incidents emphasize how important it is to double down on forage management practices to preserve homegrown protein yields and save out-of-pocket expenses.