Keep This In Mind When Stretching Feed Supply

Forage availability – it’s probably the biggest conversation happening between dairy nutritionist Henry Holdorf and the dairy farmers he works with. Holdorf is with Purina Animal Nutrition covering the northwest, southwest and southeast portions of Wisconsin.

“With low alfalfa grass yields, we’re looking at ways to stretch that inventory into next summer and spring,” he says. “If they’re not already using alternative feed products, like whole cottonseed or soy hulls, brewer grains, corn gluten feed, we’re looking at whether those things price into the ration.”

Holdorf says he has not seen supply chain issues with cottonseed or corn gluten. Sometimes there are hiccups in brewer grains availability if plants shut down over holidays or experience worker shortages.

He also recommends assessing feed inventory to see how much haylage and silage are needed to get through the year.

“I think right now we have the opportunity to chop more,” he says. “If we have the acres available… have those conversations around: Do we need to chop some of those acres instead of putting them up for corn?”

Holdorf says both drone technology in the field and cow tracking technology have made it easier to scrutinize feed supply and cattle efficiency. This is a year where thinning the herd is a viable option.

“If we’ve got some cows who maybe aren’t paying their way, but they’ve just been hanging around because milk prices were really good, beef prices are really good right now so there’s probably an opportunity to make some of those culling decisions,” he says.

Holdorf reminds us of the nutritional considerations to make if you’re harvesting corn silage early, such as fermentation time and starch quantities. He recommends you work closely with your nutritionist when you look at options to stretch your feed supply through the winter months.