Friday, June 5, 2020

What are you really feeding?

For a valid assessment of any ration, one must consider you are actually dealing with 5 different rations. This is especially true of TMR’s (total mixed rations) for dairy cattle but also applies to other livestock including horses. The five different rations are:

1.      The ration printed out by the computer is the “Holy Grail” of many nutritionists and is considered to contain the final output of our accumulated nutritional knowledge coupled with the latest chemical analysis of the feedstuffs involved.

2.  This second ration is what actually goes into the mixer. It rarely matches the print-out as accurate measurement of ingredients amounts becomes more difficult as the size of the mix increases.

3. This is is what is actually delivered to the feed bunk. If the ingredients are not properly mixed there will be different feeds delivered to different parts of the feed bunk.

4.  What the cow actually eats depends on many factors. The ‘pecking order’ in a group of cattle interferes with uniform consumption. Many cows will ‘sort’ feeds, eating only the more desirable fractions.

5.  The final ration is what the cow actually digests and assimilates into her system. This one may bear little resemblance to the computer print out but in reality is the only one that counts.

        This item was originally posted to a previous issue of Doc' Holliday's Blog on 9 September 2015

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