Ruminants: The importance of feed analysis

Why is it important to have a high-quality feed?

The quality of ruminant feed is directly linked with milk production, animal health, as well as farm performance. As feed costs represent a significant number of the total production costs, it is crucial to ensure feed nutritional values and quality throughout the whole year.
Therefore, the intake of superior quality TMR and silages can help to reduce costs and increase profitability due to the lower amount of feed supplements needed. The most common dairy cattle feed is TMR and silages.

What is TMR?

A TMR or Total Mixed Ration is a method of feeding cows that mixes different ingredients into a single feed formulation with specific nutrient values. TMR usually consist of silages, grains, concentrated feed, vitamins, minerals as well as feed additives. With this feeding method, cows can be fed with a fixed amount of silages and concentrates with balanced nutrient content. TMR is formulated based on several factors including the average milk production and the stages of the cows, for example, heifer and lactation cows have different nutritional requirements.

What is silage?

Silage is a type of chopped fodder that is made of green foliage crops (e.g., maize, sorghum, barley, etc.) or pasture grass. In any case, the entire plant is used for making silage. It is a method used to preserve the pasture in the long-term involving fermentation under anaerobic conditions. This process is known as ensiling. Proper handling and care of the silage is especially important to keep the feed fresh and safe for animal consumption. Silage made under poor conditions could lead to low dry matter, low digestibility (energy) and crude protein, elevated levels of ammonia and high acidity.

Solutions that help to ensure quality feed

Ensuring the optimal nutritional intake for your livestock, particularly in the context of TMR, requires a comprehensive understanding of the nutritional values in your feed. Given the varying nutrient compositions in TMR due to its diverse ingredients, it is essential to perform feed analysis and have accurate data on the nutritional content of grains and ensiled forages incorporated into the TMR.

Moreover, regularly monitoring the nutritional profile of your feed by analysing your feed serves as an important factor in achieving optimal milk production. This approach empowers farmers to create well-balanced feed formulations based on precise information, enabling them to make informed decisions about the supplementation needs of their livestock. For instance, underestimating the dry matter content of TMR can result in overfeeding or underfeeding, adversely impacting the overall health and productivity of the cows. Additionally, variations in nutrient values may arise depending on the seasons, the process of ensiling, as well as the process of mixing. Therefore, precision is critical for formulating a well-balanced ration, which results in promoting performance in cattle. However, feed analysis can be costly and time-consuming. Having a tool on-hand that can simplified the analysis with comparable accuracy is an advantage for the farmers and farm advisors.

With the FeedCares Scanner Solution (based on non-destructive Near Infra-Red Spectroscopy (NIRS) technology) qualitative parameters of feed materials and forage can be quickly determined on-site, without sending the feed sample to the laboratory. This enables the farmers and farm advisors to monitor, optimize, and control the quality of the feed to meet the nutritional requirements of animals. Furthermore, this tool can be used as a monitoring tool to know the optimal stage in which the crop/ grass needs to be cut for silage.

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FeedCares Report

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