A new look at fiber digestibility and particle size – Dr. Rick Grant and Wyatt Smith, William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute

Posted on September 26, 2018 in Forage Foundations

By Dr. Rick Grant and Wyatt Smith, William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute president and MS graduate student
Current research at the Miner Institute looks at the impacts particle size may have on fiber digestibility.

200-RFQ alfalfa silage: Relative to what? – Pat Hoffman, Vita Plus

Posted on July 24, 2018 in Forage Foundations

By Pat Hoffman, Vita Plus dairy technical specialist
You send in a new batch of haylage to the forage testing lab and the analysis reveals it has a relative forage quality (RFQ) greater than 200.  This raises feeding and production expectations, but let's slow down and ask, "What does this 200-plus RFQ really mean?"

Cut it out! Avoid alfalfa quality guesswork – Nathan Hrnicek, Vita Plus

Posted on May 22, 2018 in Forage Foundations

By Nathan Hrnicek, Vita Plus forage products specialist
Producers across the Midwest have been asking when they should harvest first-crop alfalfa.  Two great methods to help predict alfalfa quality prior to harvest are the PEAQ stick and scissor clippings.

Managing mineral variation in forages – Kyle Taysom, Dairyland Laboratories, Inc.

Posted on May 22, 2018 in Forage Foundations

By Kyle Taysom, Dairyland Laboratories, Inc.
Forage minerals can have many impacts on animal health and production.  Although minerals are relatively inexpensive to supplement, failing to account for the variation of minerals within forages can lead to substantial over- or underfeeding.

RFV or RFQ: Does it make a difference? – Jon Urness, Vita Plus

Posted on May 22, 2018 in Forage Foundations

By Jon Urness, Vita Plus national forage specialist
Nutritionists sometimes use RFV and RFQ to describe how a certain forage is feeding.  However, these two values mean more when you compare the relative dollar value of different forages in the market.

Optimizing corn plant density for silage – Jon Urness, Vita Plus

Posted on March 23, 2018 in Forage Foundations

By Jon Urness, Vita Plus national forage specialist
For the past 40 years, Midwest corn growers have increased plant populations in an effort to find that happy place where optimum yield and quality meet.  At the Wisconsin Custom Operators and Midwest Forage Association Symposium, Dr. Joe Lauer, University of Wisconsin-Madison, spoke about research conducted to find that 'sweet spot.' 

Funky fermentations: A case study – Jon Urness, Vita Plus

Posted on January 25, 2018 in Forage Foundations

By Jon Urness, Vita Plus national forage specialist
It can be frustrating when you feel like you did everything correctly to put up quality forages and then the fermentation analysis shows a volatile fatty acid profile that is far from perfect.  In this particular case, the producer had unusually high acetic acid levels and we sought an answer. 

Inoculant mythbusters: Clearing the smoke and mirrors – Dr. Michelle Windle, Vita Plus

Posted on January 25, 2018 in Forage Foundations

By Dr. Michelle Windle, Vita Plus forage products and dairy technical specialist
Each year, inoculant companies and their representatives vie for your business.  Decisions should be based on proven facts rather than marketing, smoke and mirrors.  To help, we'd like to share some myths we've heard as well as some scientific responses to help "clear the smoke."

Forage passage rates: What we know – Pat Hoffman, Vita Plus

Posted on January 25, 2018 in Forage Foundations

By Pat Hoffman, Vita Plus dairy technical specialist
Anyone who has worked with lactating dairy cows has likely made a comment about loose manure and passage rates, but what do we really know about forage passage rates and how can that help us formulate better diets for our lactating dairy cows?

Regional harvest reports – Andy Carlson, Jerry Ruetten, Jon Rasmussen and Mark Case, Vita Plus

Posted on November 20, 2017 in Forage Foundations

As harvest season wraps up here in the Midwest, check to see how your area has been doing.

Forage storage: Begin with the end in mind – Bryan Knoper, Vita Plus

Posted on September 25, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Bryan Knoper, Vita Plus dairy specialist
Do you know the value of your stored forages? 

At the farm level, it is worth more than the cost to build another freestall barn.  At the cow level, it is realized in the fluctuation of her milk production when you switch forages.

Managing haylage variation in rations (Part 2) – Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus

Posted on September 25, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus dairy technology specialist
In part one of this series, I discussed how we can better manage haylage in the field to minimize quality variation.  Now, we will turn our attention to how dairy nutritionists manage haylage variation in the ration.

Pricing haylage and baleage – Jon Urness, Vita Plus

Posted on September 25, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Jon Urness, Vita Plus national forage specialist
Several times a year, a member of the Vita Plus forage team gets a call that starts like this: “I’ve got a chance to buy some haylage from a neighbor, what should I pay for it?”

With wide variation in quality, moisture, and point of delivery, the answer can be a little daunting as it depends on a number of objective and subjective factors.  Let’s tackle the objective ones first because they’re fairly easy. 

Managing haylage variation in rations (Part one) – Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus

Posted on July 25, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus dairy technology specialist
When it comes to dairy cow diets today, we mostly discuss higher corn silage or byproduct diets and not high-haylage diets.  One of the reasons for this shift has been challenges with variation in haylage quality.  Minimizing this variation is key if you are considering additional haylage in a diet or looking to take full advantage of all the knowledge gained in balancing diets for amino acids, fiber digestibility, and starch utilization.

Feeding cereal forages – Pat Hoffman, Vita Plus

Posted on July 25, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Pat Hoffman, Vita Plus dairy technical specialist
In some ways, it seems like an unusual concept to write about feeding lactating dairy cows grass forages, but it shouldn’t since they were born to eat grass.  Furthermore, around the world, pasture grasses, grass hay and grass silage are the predominant forages fed to dairy cows. 

But here in the upper Midwest, our forages of choice since the 1940s have been alfalfa and corn silage.  While feeding more cereal grasses, such as triticale, rye or oat silage, seems new to us, it’s certainly nothing new to a dairy cow.

Ash content and forage quality – Jon Urness, Vita Plus

Posted on July 25, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Jon Urness, Vita Plus national forage specialist
We’re picking up a lot of dirt with harvest equipment, which is reflected in forage ash content, according to Dr. Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin-Madison.  The result of high ash content can mean a loss of up to 350 pounds in milk per ton of hay forage dry matter (DM).