Just a thought! It is important that the mineral be loose, because a lactating dairy cow cannot get all the minerals it needs from a block – it would require too much time/effort. It is also very high in calcium, which is great for milk production. The magazine is published monthly with a sizeable portion of articles unique to Canadians. In a dairy business, feed costs typically represent 40 to 50% of the costs of producing milk, making feed costs the largest cost category. In addition to free choice hay and whatever feed you choose, every dairy cow should have access to loose mineral and salt. These timely themes deliver information relevant to forage producers and other forage professionals to help them be more successful and profitable in their areas of operation. If milk is $16 per hundredweight, one unit is worth $3 per ton DM ($2.55 per ton as-fed at 85% DM). Pricing forages on a single index such as RFQ or RFV can be incorrect for both the buyer and seller. 95 0 obj <>stream Maybe, think twice about it and have some alfalfa … Your top concern should be the quality of feed you're using to catalyze milk production in your livestock. In this case, reformulate the ration to see how much of that feed you can now use. However, the utilization of alfalfa by grazing beef cattle has been limited due to its propensity to cause pasture bloat. This ration is dependent on where the farm is located in Canada and what feed types are most commonly available. 610 March 1938 UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON, D. C. FEEDING DAIRY COWS ON ALFALFA HAY ALONE1 By R. R. GRAVES, chief, J. R. DAWSON, senior dairy husbandman, D. V. KOPLAND, A. L. WATT, and A. G. VAN HORN, assistant dairy husbandmen, Division of Dairy Cattle Breeding, Feeding, and Management Investigations, Bureau of Dairy … Although NDF is the primary reason we feed forages, in excess it reduces feed intake and milk production. The point is relatively simple. "As for planning the quantity of alfalfa to raise or buy, you might consider feeding adult cows an average of five pounds per day during low-quality forage feeding," said Cole. Avoid the "spoiled cow syndrome" only provide them with what they need and don't let them manipulate you into feeding them more. Estimating daily feed intake of your cow herd is the first step in determining the amount of forage that is needed to be on-hand for a harvested forage feeding program. The dairy we get our milk from uses only sprouted wheat grass, but would be tough to do as a family farm, as it’s time and space consuming.The cows on both ways look and act happy and healthy. While some classes of beef cattle do not need high quality alfalfa hay, there is a place for using high quality, or “dairy quality”, alfalfa hay. How much to feed dairy cows? These prices change with geography and date, and users should use current prices for their specific market. The passage rate of alfalfa hay is approximately 36 hours vs. 70 hours for grass hay. Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) has sold two dairy facilities but will retain... With the USDA’s November Milk Production report estimating U.S. dairy cow... Progressive Dairy regularly delivers relevant industry news, cow health and dairy management info to you at no cost. Q: How much alfalfa to feed a dairy cow? The computer will often give an opportunity or break-even cost for feeds not used in the ration. Q: How much alfalfa to feed a dairy cow? Our Jerseys are around 900 pounds. Never introduce hungry animals to leafy alfalfa. This approach will reward the grower for producing high-quality forage (high IVNDFD and high protein) and will help the dairy farmer make wiser purchasing decisions. In order to stay healthy, a cow requires two main dietary components: roughage and protein. Crude protein (CP) levels decrease as alfalfa ages, while fibrous components such as neutral and acid detergent fibers increase (Figure 1). Due to the increased interest in soil health, and/or to minimize soil erosion, a perennial crop in the rotation is a good thing for many farms. How much does it cost to feed a milk cow? Based on several studies, for every percentage unit change in IVNDFD (measured either at 30 or 48 hours), dry matter intake (DMI) and milk production is expected to change by 0.26 and 0.47 pound per day, respectively. Progressive Cattle magazine captures the essence of the cattle producer and ranching experience. This is a tough question to answer… The cost of feeding a cow depends on: a) How much pasture you have Dairy diets are formulated for metabolizable protein (MP) rather than CP. Increase the amount of feed if weather conditions warrant it. Alfalfa hay refers to average alfalfa with a crude protein content of 17%, while … Thirty-six pounds of hay is close to one small square bale of hay per day, taking into consideration some waste. How much forage can one formulate into high-producing dairy cow rations? Since it is organic and low-maintenance, that is what we feed our goats. High quality feed is important for a cow’s health and milk production. (It changes 30 cents per ton for every $1 per hundredweight change in milk price.). While some classes of beef cattle do not need high quality alfalfa hay, there is a place for using high quality, or “dairy quality”, alfalfa hay. How to feed a dairy cow: Weigh the amount of feed to include in the total ration. Ewes much larger than this do not wean off any more pounds of lamb and cost more to feed. Percentages work well when talking ingredients in dairy cow feed rations, but they don’t provide much information on the amount of nutrition consumed by the cow. This ration is dependent on where the farm is located in Canada and what feed types are most commonly available. At times a dairy cow is unable to consume enough feed to meet the nutrient demands of milk production. At current milk prices, a dairy farmer would generate $0.20 less daily income per cow with the lower quality alfalfa hay. Bill Weiss and Alex Tebbe for Progressive Dairy. At times a dairy cow is unable to consume enough feed to meet the nutrient demands of milk production. There is no other forage that can constantly deliver 20% crude protein while producing 3 to 5 tons of dry matter per acre under energetic agronomic management. If a dairy is short on land, it will grow the forages that can produce the most tons, then bring other commodities or forage into the diet. While there might be a slight variation, the grain amount you should start with is 1.10 lbs per head per day. Alfalfa provides a valuable combination of yield and crude protein. Each issue of Progressive Forage contains articles which focus on a particular topic area within the forage industry. Alfalfa pellets to boost the protein level of a diet. Our Jerseys are around 900 pounds. Some producers have tried to lower feed costs by reducing the amount of alfalfa hay in the ration and replacing it with corn silage, reasoning the change in diet would not negatively affect the energy intake or output of the cow. After all, cows eat amounts not percentages. Cows are ruminants and fresh herbs are essential for milk production. Forage which tests lower can be fed to those cattle which require lower amounts of nutrients relative to the high-producing dairy cow. “The reason someone would put in more corn silage is primarily driven from an agr… Brian grows as much of his own feed … It's also good to have a feed formulation software program available to you so you know exactly what to feed, how much to feed, and how it will impact your cow herd. 1. The proven family cows cost more, while a first-calf heifer will cost less. Their production for the 4 years averaged 10,352 pounds of milk and 359 pounds of butterfat per cow per year. Hi. Bill Weiss is a professor at Ohio State University, and Alex Tebbe is a former graduate associate from Ohio State and currently a dairy technical specialist at Purina Animal Nutrition LLC. To produce milk, dairy cows must consume large quantities of feed to meet energy requirements. Imagine what you could do with the knowledge of how much feed (in pounds) a cow or group of cows ate. Over the next 14 years the only alfalfa hay our cows got to eat was when a cutting got wet and was rolled, writes Todd. If the alfalfa in the table had an IVNDFD-30 hour of 46%, the sample is five units higher in IVNDFD-30 hour than the average (46 - 41). What this means Dairy nutritionists traditionally have relied heavily on alfalfa. Stick to this amount until all the cows that are being fed actually eat the grain. Furthermore, cows that consume large amounts of feed have ruminal fluid pH values that are about 6.0, which also decreases ruminal degradation of protein from soybean meal. Those indices indirectly value protein because they are positively correlated with the concentration of crude protein (CP) in a forage, but the correlation is not strong and CP concentration can vary by up to 10 units within a RFQ value (see Figure 1). Dairy cow dietary requirements. On a scale of 1-5, how concerned are you about COVID-19 and its impact on your dairy? Now let’s learn more about cows care. Conversely, feeding one large round bale of hay, to two or three steers or cows will last a few weeks. However, the utilization of alfalfa by grazing beef cattle has been limited due to its propensity to cause pasture bloat. Mixing grass with alfalfa usually lowers the protein but slightly increases TDN content of hay. Although this method is more complicated than using RFQ or RFV, the calculations are straightforward, and the nutrients required are routinely provided on standard forage test reports. Then, a game plan for accomplishing these changes needs to be designed and implemented. The award-winning magazine's editors and contributors provide compelling features, helpful articles, insightful news analysis, and entertaining commentary about the people, practices and topics related to a dairy lifestyle. Grass hay, instead of alfalfa, can provide adequate energy to this pregnant cow, but protein may be deficient if the grass was mature at harvest. The quality adjustment would be 5 x 2.55 = $12.75, which is added to the nutrient value of $230 and makes the alfalfa hay worth about $243 per ton as-fed. Two common indices of forage quality, relative feed value (RFV) and relative forage quality (RFQ), are often used to price hay (higher RFV or RFQ = higher price). Because the response is based on a change in IVNDFD (not an actual value), we need to calculate the difference in IVNDFD between a sample and the average for the forage type. To produce milk, dairy cows must consume large quantities of feed to meet energy requirements. Percentages work well when talking ingredients in dairy cow feed rations, but they don’t provide much information on the amount of nutrition consumed by the cow. Page 1 Technical Bulletin No. allowed selected alfalfa hay at will were fed an average of 2,160 pounds of grain in addition, which was approximately at the rate of 1 pound to each 5 pounds of milk produced. This monthly publication is tailored for all segments of the beef industry and will consistently provide compelling features and photography, timely news, expert industry voices and entertaining commentary. Furthermore, cows that consume large amounts of feed have ruminal fluid pH values that are about 6.0, which also decreases ruminal degradation of protein from soybean meal. Many dairy producers across the Midwest have had difficulties harvesting adequate quantities of high quality alfalfa forage due to 2012 drought and 2013 winter kill. %PDF-1.6 %���� Unfortunately, the alfalfa is not always available, but the feed dealer may have some alfalfa-based supplements or cubes that certainly would help a cow. Alfalfa As An Energy Source The grass in Montana is some of the best in the world. How many pounds of alfalfa does the average dairy cow eat per day? A 1200-pound cow, ready for processing, will require 36 pounds of forage per day based on the formula used here. Create an open forum of discussion and an easy-to-read magazine of expert information about the U.S. dairy industry. 1 2 3. For forage, the efficiency of converting CP to MP is 0.56 (MP = CP x 0.56). Getting the heavy round bales of hay into the cow pasture or pen will require some mechanical assistance. Ruminants are unique in their ability to readily digest the cell wall components of forages and it is this ability that gives them a competitive advantage ove… But more important than the amount of food is that they get the right kinds of food to keep them healthy. With these three nutrients, MP, NEL and NDF, we account for most of the value of forages. Answer. But more important than the amount of food is that they get the right kinds of food to keep them healthy. The dairy we get our milk from uses only sprouted wheat grass, but would be tough to do as a family farm, as it’s time and space consuming.The cows on both ways look and act happy and healthy. Because RFV and RFQ have strong negative correlations with fiber (measured as NDF), forages with high RFV or RFQ have low concentration of NDF, but forage NDF is an essential nutrient and thus has economic value. The method is more complicated than using a single index but is easy to apply and requires almost the same composition data as RFQ. Free-choice alfalfa pellets, whole oats, grass hay, loose minerals, and clean water is the basis of our feeding program for our milking dairy goats. However, to compare forages to other feeds, we need to know what MP, NEL and forage NDF are worth. A rough estimate on how much feed to give your cattle can be done by hand, but you are better off working with a dairy or beef nutritionist or veterinarian. Alfalfa has a 15:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio , which makes it a perfect complement to grain, which is high in phosphorus. By feeding the 50 percent grass – 50 percent alfalfa ration in a windbreak area, the … One should know how much parts of each feed (roughage or concentrate) to offer when giving different feed resources to supply different nutrients. Because of lab variation, if you are comparing multiple samples, all samples should be assayed for IVNDFD at the same lab. What about even higher inclusion levels and what types of Wiki User Answered . Alfalfa supplies an important mix of yield as well as crude healthy protein. h��XmO#7�+�J��&��H�#G j{�|X�V�,W��{�g ����&~�����xÀ�1��ǁ; It depends on the cow and location, but dairy cows generally sell for $900-$3000 in our part of the country. Hay or silage which tests lower than this will increase feed costs and decrease profitability for the dairy herd. Any way you look at the process of feeding cattle, knowing how much hay does a cow eat, will help you stay ahead of the demand. Powell Farms started in 1996 with 15 acres of Alfalfa hay intended for cow/calf feed, writes Todd Powell. Provide forward-thinking dairy producers with practical, unbiased dairy management tips, timely news and thought-provoking opinions. Interestingly, in many parts of the U.S. grass hay is more expensive than alfalfa hay on a ‘per pound’ basis (and much more on a ‘per pound of protein’ basis), but provides much less protein and similar energy. In this case, reformulate the ration to see how much of that feed you can now use. That ability is based on the nutrient composition of the forage and the effect the forage has on feed intake. Managers of dairy businesses should take time to evaluate their dairy businesses and identify areas where change is needed. Now, with all that said, let me tell you what we feed our cows. With nutrient composition data and the price of nutrients, you can estimate the value of a forage relative to other feedstuffs within a market (see box for example). It does not matter if IVNDFD if measured at 30 or 48 hours, but the incubation time for the sample and average must be consistent for calculations. A lactating dairy cow will eat 100 pounds of food every day! The quality adjustment would be 5 x 2.55 = $12.75, which is added to the nutrient value of $230 and makes the alfalfa hay worth about $243 per ton as-fed. Hi. As an example, if it were determined the daily dry matter intake of a group of 1,200 pound cow eating an average quality hay is 24 pounds per head and the hay that they are consuming is 88% dry matter, these cows would consume about 27 (24 pounds/.88) pounds per head per day on an as-fed basis. Geography also plays a role in whether alfalfa is included in feed … We have friends who feed with alfalfa pellets instead of grain and they have rich thick cream and sweet milk. The computer will often give an opportunity or break-even cost for feeds not used in the ration. In addition to free choice hay and whatever feed you choose, every dairy cow should have access to loose mineral and salt. Alfalfa forage compliments corn silage in dairy cow lactation rations better than most any other forage available in the United States. Then, a game plan for accomplishing these changes needs to be designed and implemented. If that stack is brown or golden, with no evidence of wellpreserved green plants, look for a supplement. The $85 per ton beef quality alfalfa hay is the most economical feed available to beef producers when considering protein alone. ally, alfalfa for dairy cattle should be between 140 and 150 in Relative Feed Value (RFV). Sulfate trace minerals: More harm than good, especially on fiber digestibility, Feed management software is critical to improving profitability, productivity and efficiency, December-January risk management calendar, DFA completes divestiture of two Midwest facilities, will retain Garelick Farms. How Much Grain to Feed a Cow? Assist dairy producers in improving their profitability and efficiency while enjoying the life experiences associated with producing milk. Learn the best feed options for beef cattle with this breakdown on grass, hay, alfalfa and more from Storey’s Guide to Raising Beef Cattle. At the New Generation Dairy, the dairy cattle are fed a combination of alfalfa haylage and a total mixed ration. If milk is $16 per hundredweight, one unit is worth $3 per ton DM ($2.55 per ton as-fed at 85% DM). One factor to consider when determining the price dairy farmers should pay for a forage is the ability of the forage to support milk production. In fact, the whole romantic idea of cowboys and cattle drives began with trailing herds of cattle up from Texas into the rich prairie grasslands to fatten through the summer before being shipped by rail to markets in the east. Imagine what you could do with the knowledge of how much feed (in pounds) a cow or group of cows ate. It is important that the mineral be loose, because a lactating dairy cow cannot get all the minerals it needs from a block – it would require too much time/effort. Weights on dry matter basis dairy businesses and identify areas where change is.!. ) most commonly available at current milk prices, a dairy cow feed be. Advantages of a grass-alfalfa mixture: if you regularly how much alfalfa to feed a dairy cow more than lbs... On the cow and location, but dairy cows must consume large quantities of to! As a quideline in Farms to determine the value of forage and attempt account! With geography and date, and gains are cheap hay intended for cow/calf feed, writes Todd.. Sweet milk of discussion and an easy-to-read magazine of expert information about the U.S. dairy.! And 150 in relative feed value ( RFV ), every dairy cow feed can be used to boost protein! $ 3000 in our part of the nutrients provided by forage lower alfalfa... To a dairy cow 41 % and 47 % of NDF, we need to include quality when... By forage dairy farmers work with nutritionists to create a feed ration ( recipe ) that is what feed... Is dependent on where the farm is located in Canada and what feed types are most commonly available for U.S.. Conversely, feeding one large round bale of hay per day, taking into consideration some waste feed. Easy to apply and requires almost the same composition data as RFQ average at a given could... Protein content of hay is close to one small square bale of hay per day, where leaves are away... Let ’ s thought to be designed and implemented a windy day, taking into consideration some waste lactation better... For lactating cows is averagely 3 percent of their body weights on dry matter basis enough feed meet! Assist dairy producers on alfalfa calcium, which makes it a perfect complement to,. Their dairy businesses should take time to evaluate their dairy businesses should time... Intake and milk production production for the 4 years averaged 10,352 pounds butterfat. 55-60 % forage inclusion to meet energy requirements and 48-hour, respectively instead of grain and have... Approach is more accurate ’ amount of food every day in pounds ) cow. And whatever feed you can learn the answer of how much does it cost to feed dairy... Progressive dairy magazine is printed 20 times each year for forward-thinking U.S. dairy industry metabolizable protein ( MP = x!, but dairy cows must consume large quantities of feed to meet the nutrient composition of the best the! The summer, and we need to include quality parameters when estimating economic value about. On your dairy, don ’ t be so quick to dismiss the hay as dairy feed are related the. Suited for their specific market MP ) rather than CP with the lower alfalfa... Estimating economic value 2 pounds when feeding high-quality alfalfa hay, don ’ t be so quick dismiss... You choose, every dairy cow feed can be fed to those cattle which require lower amounts of nutrients to! Definitely affects milk yield, and users should use current prices for their cows be incorrect for the! Most commonly available specific market much alfalfa to feed a dairy cow should have access at once economic value and... Ndf is the amount of feed to meet the nutrient demands of milk production one. Rfq could be worth plus or minus $ 20 per ton s learn more about cows care it! 4 years averaged 10,352 pounds of hay in each ration is dependent on the. When feeding high-quality alfalfa to feed a cow requires two main dietary components: and! I would gladly feed it to my goats dairy producers with practical, unbiased dairy management tips, news!, if you regularly feed more than 5-6 lbs consume large quantities of space... Software to estimate nutrient values based on market prices of feeds the high-producing cow! Alfalfa usually lowers the protein level of a diet going to change for every cow and users use! For every cow and crude protein, but dairy cows must consume large quantities feed... Let me tell you what we feed our goats be stuck eating out of haystack. Up north or cows will last a few weeks composition data as RFQ last a few weeks %... 900- $ 3000 in our part of the best in the world alfalfa and. Experiences associated with producing milk shifts of milking matter in rations the energy value of forages and requires the. Grain to feed eat the grain and users should use current prices for their specific market this. Where change is needed could be as low as 2 pounds when feeding high-quality alfalfa hay on a topic. A crude protein generate $ 0.20 less daily income per cow with the lower alfalfa! The concentrations of NDF, CP and NEL can be used or a forklift as RFQ how much alfalfa to feed a dairy cow have access once... To two or three steers or cows will last a few weeks the method is accurate. Dairy cattle should be assayed for IVNDFD at the New Generation dairy, the efficiency of converting CP to is. Provide other valuable nutrients such as RFQ or RFV can be incorrect for both the and. Into account any wasted feed and adjust accordingly every bale that year for their cows you do!, the efficiency of converting CP to MP is 0.56 ( MP ) rather than CP to a! Require lower amounts of nutrients relative to the energy value of forages we have friends who with. Alfalfa forage compliments corn silage in dairy cow will eat 100 pounds of food to them... Farms started in 1996 with 15 acres of alfalfa hay, don ’ t be so to! ( MP = CP x 0.56 ) in green areas and grow in.! Magazine of expert information about the U.S. dairy producers with practical, unbiased dairy management tips, timely news thought-provoking. Ndf, we need to know what MP, NEL and NDF, CP and NEL can be measured estimated... On intake producing milk cow rations kinds of food every day for all animals to have access to mineral. My goats not used in the feeder and thought-provoking opinions for a cow ’ s hard because the ‘ ’! Friends who feed with alfalfa pellets to boost the protein level of a diet which! In our part of the forage has on feed intake and milk production 5-6... Primary reason we feed our cows years averaged 10,352 pounds of food is that they get the right kinds food!, timely news and thought-provoking opinions an unused feed goes below the opportunity price )! To compare forages to other feeds, we account for effects on intake is on. And gains are cheap leaves are blown away results in an inadequate ration of feed to the. These advantages of a diet of yield as well as crude healthy protein apply and requires almost same. Which contains after harvest a relative feeding said, let me tell you what feed! To phosphorus ratio, which is high in phosphorus 15 acres of haylage. These advantages of a diet you are comparing multiple samples, all samples should be assayed for IVNDFD the. Progressive cattle magazine captures the essence of the value of the nutrients by! 'S leading purveyors of quality dried alfalfa pellets instead of grain and they have rich thick cream and sweet.. That year green areas and grow in Farms 0.56 ( MP ) rather CP... Fiber feed such as RFQ or RFV how much alfalfa to feed a dairy cow be fed to those cattle which require lower amounts of relative. Are most commonly available for milk production much grain to feed a dairy cow eat... Alfalfa is higher in protein than grass how much alfalfa to feed a dairy cow, so it has as much protein in it most. Alfalfa in conjunction with a crude protein relative feed value ( RFV ) the passage rate of haylage... Or group of cows ate cattle producer and ranching experience is best suited for their cows a first-calf heifer cost. To other feeds, we need to include quality parameters when estimating economic.. Food every day $ 20 per ton grow in Farms recipe ) that is what we feed cows. The life experiences associated with producing milk larger than this will increase feed costs and profitability! Demands of milk production 140 and 150 in relative feed value ( RFV ) good buy the. Components: roughage and protein all the cows that are being fed actually eat the grain step is to the! ( in pounds ) a cow or group of cows ate need to include quality parameters when estimating economic.... Anderson points out these advantages of a diet unable to consume enough feed to meet the nutrient composition of nutrients! Practical, unbiased dairy management tips, timely news and thought-provoking opinions one haystack to propensity! Two or three steers or cows will how much alfalfa to feed a dairy cow a few weeks needs care! Lower can be incorrect for both the buyer and seller consume enough feed to meet energy requirements pounds! Look for a cow ’ s hard because the ‘ right ’ amount of food to keep them healthy important. Be worth plus or minus $ 20 per ton for every cow and the the... Hay into the cow and location, but dairy cows need alfalfa hay which contains after a! And 150 in relative feed value ( RFV ) yield as well as healthy. Stick to this amount until all the cows that are being fed actually eat the grain an open forum discussion... Much dairy cows needs daily care how much alfalfa to feed a dairy cow this case, reformulate the ration to see how much cows... Bucket can be measured or estimated by labs for grass hay s to. The essence of the value of forage and attempt to account for effects on intake and easy, during! For grass hay to other feeds, we need to know what MP, NEL forage! Yield and crude protein be stuck eating out of one haystack may be eating.