Conversations: Your TMR consistency
continued from page 41
rumen environments which support optimal milk production and cow
performance. Introducing inconsistencies in the TMR can only hold
On a day-to-day basis at commercial dairies, there are many vari-
ables (including the TMR) and normal bulk tank levels fall within a
certain range. Good managers using good protocols typically enjoy a
pretty narrow range in bulk tank levels. By using good management,
they move the total range ahead a little at a time.
3) What causes notable bulk tank changes?
We find that weather or negative changes in ingredient quality
can cause the most noticeable changes in bulk tank levels. Cows are
resilient, however, and seem to be able to get through most of these
without a lasting effect.
If the TMR’s moisture level var-
ies, the cows will eat to a certain dry
matter level; they will adjust their
prepared TMRs intake until However, matter threshold
if parts of the
is that each bite ration have more (or less) whey or wa-
ter, they may be getting more (or less)
contains exactly sugar or soluble protein. This then di-
lutes other nutrients. Plain water could
the same pro-
also have the same effect, and cows
eating the higher moisture parts of
the TMR may not have enough TMR
available to eat to their dry matter re-
4) What are the major causes TMR variations?
• Inadequate mix time – a few more minutes may make all the
difference in getting all ingredients evenly distributed in the load.
• Unevenly adding liquid ingredients – many dairies use a boom
with a manifold to add liquids. Have the mixer wagon centered under
the boom before adding liquids.
• Overfilling the mixer – too much feed in the mixer adversely
affects mixing efficiency. Avoid exceeding the manufacturer’s recom-
mended load size. If ingredients spill over the mixer’s top, it’s prob-
ably too full.
• Improperly maintained mixer – regularly perform preventative
maintenance including knife replacement and adjusting or replacing
the kicker bar.
5) How can I easily flag variations in TMRs?
Have your nutritionist and other advisors keep an eye on your
TMR. If the TMR in the bunk doesn’t look well mixed, then it prob-
ably isn’t. Regularly climb up and look in the mixer; have the feeder
do likewise. If, after a load is discharged, you identify individual
ingredients stuck to the walls or floor of the mixer, begin looking for
the cause of the problem. p
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