Oh hail no! Hail-damaged bags…what now?

Posted on May 22, 2018 in

While we do our best to put up high-quality forage each year, sometimes Mother Nature has other plans.  What is your strategy when disaster strikes your forage bags?

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.

Moving and re-ensiling silage – Dr. Michelle Windle, Vita Plus

Posted on March 23, 2018 in Forage Foundations

By Dr. Michelle Windle, Vita Plus forage products and dairy technical specialist
Moving and re-ensiling silage is never ideal because it exposes the silage to oxygen and predisposes the feed to spoilage.  However, you can minimize the impact of this practice with a few preventative steps.

Alfalfa and corn seeded together – John Grabber, USDA ARS

Posted on March 23, 2018 in Forage Foundations

By John Grabber, USDA ARS research agronomist
Alfalfa has typically been replaced in rotations with corn, partly due to the greater dry matter yield.  However, new research has found interseeding alfalfa into corn can jumpstart production of alfalfa the following year and increase yields.

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. 

Longer storage length: What does it change? – Dr. Luiz Ferraretto, University of Florida

Posted on January 25, 2018 in Forage Foundations

By Dr. Luiz Ferraretto, University of Florida assistant professor
While ensiling has been a well-established tool to store forages without compromising nutrient availability, recent research trials have reported some alterations in the nutritive value of silage occur with extended storage length.

Want greater starch digestibility? Store it longer! – Dr. Michelle Windle, Vita Plus

Posted on November 20, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Dr. Michelle Windle, Vita Plus forage products and dairy technical specialist
While the sealed silo may look peaceful during storage, the bacteria in the silo are hard at work making high-quality feed.  In fact, research has shown length of storage has a bigger impact on starch digestibility than kernel processing.

How’s your forage inventory? – Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus

Posted on November 20, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus dairy technology specialist
This is an important question to consider and you can answer it in many different ways.  Regardless of how you answer the question, it is important to periodically take inventory of your forages throughout the year to help make several high-value decisions.

Snaplage ‘recipes’ to minimize milk fat depression – Pat Hoffman, Vita Plus

Posted on September 25, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Pat Hoffman, Vita Plus dairy technical specialist
This past summer at Vita Plus, we evaluated a new ration formulation sub-model that accounts for the rumen unsaturated fatty acid load (RUFAL) in the ration.  Research has demonstrated that feeding dairy cows excessive levels of RUFALs has a negative effect on milk fat test.  In fact, in our summer project, more than 50 percent of the variance in milk fat percent across herds could be explained by accessible RUFAL concentrations in the diet. 

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.

Oxygen barrier plastic: How much does it save? – Jon Urness, Vita Plus

Posted on July 25, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Jon Urness, Vita Plus national forage specialist
When we consider a technology that promises better forage quality, we often ask, “What does it cost?” 

In reality, a better question would be “How much does it save?”

Weighing the option to use oxygen barrier plastic under conventional plastic is a great example of that scenario.

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.

Phantom feed thief – Gary Sipiorski, Vita Plus

Posted on May 23, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Gary Sipiorski, Vita Plus dairy development manager
If you compare all the milking cows in the world by volume per cow, nobody can beat the U.S. dairy herd.  In fact, the U.S. dairy cow is one of the most productive and efficient milk producers in the world, and this has only increased with time. 

Ask the expert: Wet alfalfa – Dr. Michelle Windle, Vita Plus

Posted on May 23, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Dr. Michelle Windle, Vita Plus forage products and dairy technical services specialist

Question:  I cut alfalfa almost one week ago but, due to rainy weather, I can only just now get out in the field to chop it.  How can I salvage this crop? 

Answer:  In many areas across the Midwest, alfalfa is ready to be harvested, but this last week brought a lot of rain and next week looks like more of the same.  Alfalfa is already prone to a higher pH than corn silage due to the presence of minerals and proteins that resist a pH drop.

Retain those leaves! – Jon Urness, Vita Plus

Posted on May 23, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Jon Urness, Vita Plus national forage specialist
Have you ever looked at your alfalfa hay or haylage and wondered, “What is the value of the leaves and stems?”  Probably not, but the nerds among us might find the answer to that at least interesting.  More importantly, the forage, dairy and beef producers among us may find such information critical to the success of their forage programs.

Regional report: Spring planting and alfalfa progress – John Brantsen, Jerry Ruetten, Jon Rasmussen and Mark Case, Vita Plus

Posted on May 23, 2017 in Forage Foundations

Most of the crop season has had a slow and wet start, but, with promising weather on the horizon, farmers hope to get back in the fields soon.  Hear from our Vita Plus dairy and forage consultants as they provide insights on the planting and alfalfa progress across the Vita Plus market area.