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.

Evaluating cereal forages from fall to spring – Pat Hoffman, Vita Plus

Posted on November 20, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Pat Hoffman, Vita Plus dairy technical specialist
While the weather allowed most corn silage and crops to be harvested before a killing frost set in, the planting of winter cereal forages were delayed or not accomplished.  If you are questioning if it is too late to plant your cereal crops or if they will make it, this article seeks to provide some tips on winter cereal crop evaluation.

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.

To own or not to own?

Posted on November 20, 2017 in Forage Foundations

Most all dairy producers share similar headaches during harvest season whether they own their own mchinery or hire custom harvesters.  So what is the better option?  Two producers shared their thoughts and insight on the strategies that best fit their business model.

Applicator winterization – Jon Urness, Vita Plus

Posted on November 20, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Jon Urness, Vita Plus national forage specialist
Nothing is more frustrating than being in the middle of harvest in the spring and when you go to use the applicator, all it does is leave a puddle on the ground.  Take a few minutes to properly clean your equipment this fall and it could save you hours in the spring.

Comparing high moisture corn processing equipment – Jon Urness, Vita Plus

Posted on September 25, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Jon Urness, Vita Plus national forage specialist
If you have adequate corn silage kernel processing, yet a high fecal starch percentage, you may need to look into your grain source and high moisture corn processing equipment for answers.

Two of the most common types of high moisture corn processing equipment available are hammer mills and roller mills.  Either can adequately process corn, but the choice sometimes boils down to availability.

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. 

Regional report: Corn silage harvest – Andy Carlson, Jerry Ruetten, Jon Rasmussen and Mark Case, Vita Plus

Posted on September 25, 2017 in Forage Foundations

Corn silage harvest is in full gear across most of the Midwest!  As you get a few minutes out of the fields, check to see how harvest has been going in your area.

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. 

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.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail” – Peter Coyne, Vita Plus

Posted on July 25, 2017 in Forage Foundations

By Peter Coyne, Vita Plus dairy service specialist

Ben Franklin said it well.

Having a well-planned corn silage harvest is essential if we want to maximize forage quality for the herd in the next year.  On a good day, custom operators chop about 100 acres of corn silage with one chopper.  For a 1,000-cow dairy, each day of chopping results in about a month’s worth of corn silage for the milking herd. 

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).