Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our Cows Diet – Part 2

Last week, my post focused on what our cows eat. This week I’ll provide more details about our cow’s diet because nutrition is such an important aspect of our animal’s well-being.
Feed is "pushed up" to the cows several times each day
Our goal is to make feed available to cows at all times
Currently, there are three different rations (recipes) fed to cows at our farm:

Milk Cow Ration #1 for milk cows from the time they calve to 150 days in milk. Cows that have just calved, also called “fresh cows”, have extremely high energy demands therefore require a diet high in energy. They receive this energy by consuming ground corn, distillers grain, fruit and fat in their diet along with haylage, corn silage, soybean meal, and a mineral & vitamin mix. The first 60 days after a cow calves, her body is focused on heavy milk production so she requires more energy and feed than can be provided which may cause her to lose weight. But over time, her energy needs decrease and she will maintain body weight on this high energy diet.

Milk Cow Ration #2 for milk cows from 150 days in milk until they are “dry” which is usually about 305 days in milk (or days after they have a calf). The cows diet changes to a ration with less energy and more forage such as haylage and corn silage. They still eat the same ingredients they did the previous 150 days, just in different quantities.

Dry Cow Ration for cows that are not producing milk. At this stage, the cow’s diet is forage-based aimed at maintaining the cow’s weight. Since dry cows are not producing milk, they don’t have the high energy requirement of a milk cow. This ration includes corn silage, grass haylage or grass hay, soybean meal and distillers grain.

Last week, we harvested rye grass haylage
The first load of haylage is placed on the pad near other ingredients
Each ration is carefully formulated to manage the health, well-being and productivity of our animals from calf to heifer to milk cow to dry cow. Each group of animals receives the exact nutrients they need to thrive.

The feed ingredients are tested by a laboratory for nutrient levels of protein, fibers, fat, and minerals. We also receive weekly test results regarding the component levels in our cow’s milk. These components include butterfat, protein, and MUN (milk urea nitrogen). The correct MUN levels ensure cows are optimizing the protein in their diet.  

Our nutritionist evaluates the feed ingredients and milk composition tests to develop a balanced ration that will meet the needs of each group of animals. It’s important that cows receive the correct amount of energy, protein, fat, starch and other nutrients – not too much and not too little. We manage the herd for optimal health and well-being in the lives of our animals. 


  1. Great post!
    And happy to see a fellow Blogger instead of a wordpress! hehe!

    makes life soo much easier!


  2. Thanks for the comment Leontien. I enjoyed reading your blog today!


Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to comment! I’m opening the doors of our farm to share with you and enjoy engaging in discussion. Please be respectful in your comments. I reserve the right to remove posts that include name calling, slander, and vulgar language or contain links to websites that assault animal agriculture.

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