Forages used in High Producing Cow Rations in CA
The objective of this study was to describe the forages included in the high cow ration of 16 California dairies ranging in size from 1,000 to 6,000 lactating cows. Records from a consecutive twelve month period, starting from January to June 2012, were extracted from the feeding management software FeedWatch 7.0 (FW). Records from 16 high cow (HC) recipe and 13 high cow premix (HCP) recipe were used. Two dairies did not prepare premix and one dairy had sporadic premix records and records were not included in the final data set. Descriptive statistics were conducted with SAS 9.3. Across dairies, three to seven forage types were available to fed high producing cows. Most forages were directly included into the HC recipe. But some dairies included straw in the HCP recipe (n=5). The median number of forages included daily in the HC recipe was two (n=7), three (n=4), four (n=4), or five (n=1). Throughout the twelve month study period, the number of forages in the HC recipe varied within dairy in zero (n=1), one (n=10) or two (n=5) forages. All dairies fed alfalfa hay, either for a twelve (n=14) or seven (n=2) month period. When alfalfa hay was not fed (n=2), cows were fed green chop alfalfa. All dairies included corn silage in the HC recipe, but in some dairies it was only fed for eleven (n=3), nine (n=2), eight (n=1), or five (n=1) months. BMR corn silage was fed (n=3) in combination with conventional corn silage for three to nine months. High moisture earlage (n=5) was fed for two to six months in combination (n=4) or not (n=1) with corn silage. Other silages, such as wheat (n=5), alfalfa (n=3) or both (n=4) were also included for three to twelve months or one to ten months respectively. Other crops were fed occasionally [sorghum silage (n=2) and oat silage (n=1)]. Some dairies fed straw for six to twelve months (n=6) while others for less than two months (n=3). Only ten dairies had records of DM adjustments on FW. For corn silage, DM adjustments were made zero (n=4), six (n=2), eight (n=1), nine (n=2) or ten (n=1) times in a year. Although corn silage and alfalfa hay are the most common forages used in California dairies, wheat silage, alfalfa silage and straw are other common roughage sources for high producing cows.
feeding management software