1. Feed silage.
For anyone who doesn’t know, silage (or haylage) is “high moisture hay, <60% moisture hay that has been wrapped air tight and allowed to ferment.” (Adam, 2017). What are the benefits of silage? You can increase your cows average daily gain because it only takes 8lbs of silage for a cow to gain 1 lb vs. dry hay that takes 25lbs to gain 1 lb. This also saves on feed cost. For more information this visit Here. You can also minimize storage loss of your hay bale because if you do not wrap hay you can expect to waste 25% of your bale due to spoiled hay from weather, which saves you money.
2. Feed chopped hay/silage.
Chopped hay creates less waste because its easier for the cow to eat in smaller pieces. Reducing waste always saves you money. They don’t have to work as hard to get the chopped hay out of the bale. With long stem hay the cow pulls out the long stems and then some falls on the ground, creating waste. Learn more here. Chopped hay is also easier for the cow to digest and they get the needed nutrients in a shorter period of time. Drovers online explains it like this, “Anything that decreases the particle size of forages also increases the surface area for the bacteria to attach, and this speeds up the rate of digestion, allowing the animal to get more nutrients in a shorter time.”
3. Use a TMR mixer.
Using a TMR mixer reduces sorting, so you know your cows are getting the exact ration you have created in your mixer- which also reduces waste. Also, it increases your cows overall nutritional health, because there are two different basic bacteria in a cow’s gut: one for breaking down cellulose and one for breaking down carbohydrate. If your cows are on a hay only ration and you slug feed them some carbohydrates, it causes a rapid change in the PH of the cow’s gut, throwing her off feed. By mixing your hay and carbohydrates in a homogenous mix with a TMR mixer, and letting the cow eat this every day, the gut stays in a stable PH resulting in better feed conversion.
Chris Finck [conversation to the author]. (2018, January 08).
Adam, Bernard. The Hows and Whys of High Moisture Hay. 2017
Fluharty, Francis. Increasing the digestibility of forages= Economic benefits. Drovers online. 2015.