In today’s world, every successful business is concerned about the bottom line, and how to improve it. For most businesses, increasing sales and income is the best option. However, at Grand View Dairy Farm, located in Brillion, Wisconsin, they view the bottom line from several different perspectives. The owners, Bruce and Corey Schmidt have the belief that one of the most overlooked assets on a farm is its inventory. If you make poor quality feed, you’re stuck with it for a year and vice-versa, with good feed, you reap benefits for an entire year.
As previously stated “the objective of feeding a total mixed ration (TMR) is to provide a consistently uniform mix, with the intended ingredient and nutrient composition, across the entire length of the feedbunk with every batch.” And while a number of factors such as ingredient variability and moisture content, consistency of mixing procedures, operator error, and weighing system variability contribute to batch-to-batch variation, it is the characteristics of the mixer itself that essentially control within batch variation, and uniformity across the feedbunk. In this article we will discuss TMR mixer characteristics that affect mix uniformity and a sieving technique that can be used to evaluate it and make adjustments to improve animal performance.
Few families have influenced the livestock handling industry as significantly as the Priefert family from Mount Pleasant, Texas. For half a century, the Prieferts have been designing, building, and marketing cattle handling equipment, and, in the process, changing the way the American rancher handles cattle. Marvin Priefert founded Priefert Manufacturing in 1964 with the invention of the first fully front-opening headgate. 50 years later, Marvin’s son Bill, and his grandsons, Eddie, Nate, and Travis, still own and operate the family business, with the goal of continuing to improve upon the design and functionality of today’s livestock handling equipment.
Sustainability is a word we hear a lot in the beef industry these days. Some of the nation’s largest buyers of beef are heavily focused on the topic right now and I don’t think it’s a topic that will go away any time soon. You’ve no doubt heard McDonald’s plan to source verified sustainable beef by 2016. Walmart is also developing plans to ensure the sustainability of its beef supply chain.
Cattlemen spend a lot of time looking at their input costs, and rightly so. These costs can become so daunting, however, that the net result is obscured: the output performance. This is the message that Trevor Greenfield, owner of Rio Nutrition located near Redwood Falls, Minnesota, is heralding. “It’s got to be about both — input costs and output performance — there needs to be a balance.
Enzyme technology is a hot topic in livestock nutrition these days, and Agri-King, Inc., based in Fulton, Ill., is leading the pack with their enzyme technology.“Agri-King uses enzyme technology to target the performance needs of multiple livestock species paired with the feedstuffs being fed to optimize feed efficiency and profitability for the global agriculture market being served,” says Dr. Dave Jones, Director of Nutrition at Agri-King.There is more nutrition in the feedstuffs we feed than livestock can extract by themselves. Given the current cost of feedstuffs and the slim margins in the livestock industry right now, everyone needs to be as efficient as possible at extracting all the possible nutrients out of the feeds we use in our livestock operations.
It is often said that the introduction of the TMR (Total Mixed Ration) mixer has played a pivotal role in improving animal performance, and at the same decreasing feed cost. Yet little authoritative information has been written, nor public research conducted, regarding this important tool for cattle feeding since its inception more than 40 years ago. Thus, today we are launching a new, regular column called TMR Corner. Here you’ll find information regarding how TMR mixers function, how to optimize the TMR and mixer operation on your farm, TMR mixer tips, industry developments, and other related items. In this issue, we will introduce our regular columnist, Dr. Alan S. Vaage, and provide some insight why we feel such a column is warranted, and how you, our readers, can participate.
John Deere B-Wrap™ Offers New Way to Preserve Bale Quality
Store round bales outdoors, through the winter, and you’ll likely get hit with a hefty “fine.” According to research from Oklahoma State University, round bales can lose between 5 and 20 percent of their dry matter just by sitting outside through winter. Ouch! And those dry-matter losses increase even more if the bale sits outside for a full year or more.
Losing 20 percent is like tossing every fifth bale you make into a manure pile. But those losses are not really all that surprising when you consider that 20 percent of the dry-matter in a 6-foot diameter bale is in the outer four inches of the bale.
Feed hay in the fall and save the new green grass for winter is a plan that can result in more feed for drought-stressed cow herds. University of Missouri Extension specialists urge continued feeding of hay to allow pastures to rebuild root reserves to prepare grass for strong growth next spring.
“It’s tempting to turn cows onto new fall growth when rains return after a drought,” says Rob Kallenbach, MU forage specialist.
There’s another reason to hold off, says Justin Sexten, MU beef nutritionist. Cows will need high-quality grass when winter brings wet and cold weather. The grass growing this fall can be stockpiled in pastures for winter grazing.
Forage (pasture, silage, hay) is the most natural feed for cattle. Ruminants do very well on forage but don’t grow quite as fast or get fat as quickly as when they are fed grain. Many young cattle are finished in feedlots on grain to save time and total feed. If grain-feeding can take an animal to slaughter readiness before going through another winter (on hay), it can be cheaper. But pasture is the most abundant and cheapest feed for other cattle.
The following is an excerpt from Storey’s Guide to Raising Beef Cattle (Storey Publishing, 2009). This best-selling classic provides health, handling, feeding and breeding advice to anyone raising beef cattle.