Along with many challenges that occur during the summer due to heat and humidity, the dairy ration is heating. In a few short hours, the total mixed ration (TMR) can experience heating resulting in a loss in quality, odour, and subsequently reduced intakes.
What causes this?
Mixing feed ingredients in a TMR allows microbes access to additional nutrients along with oxygen. In addition to a hot feed bunk and humidity, this results in good growing conditions for mould and wild yeast. The fermentation of the feed creates heat and increases the temperature of the TMR. The addition of moisture from green feed and possible drift from cow cooling sprinklers can also contribute.
TMR quality can diminish quickly during the hot summer months, so preventing this secondary fermentation and the following heat increase is extremely important for your bottom line.
Here is a list of feed management practices to help keep your TMR fresh:
Feed twice per day. If possible, provide fresh feed when conditions are relatively cool. Consider offering two-thirds of the TMR in the late afternoon/early evening and one-third in the morning.
Push-up feed frequently.
Carefully manage the face of your upright silo, bag or bunker. Removing 12 inches a day is recommended, and it is best to remove it from the entire face.
Always use a thermometer to check temperatures. Feeling the temperature of the feed with your hand will not give you accurate results.
Summer is not over yet, and we can expect hot, humid weather for a while still, so keep an eye on your feed and try to adapt your management for the best results at the bunk.
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