Choosing the best hay for dairy cows is one of the most important decisions you can make. It can help you increase milk production and ensure that your animals are healthy.
Among the most common sources of forage for dairy cattle are Alfalfa hay. It is a highly digestible forage, which is rich in growth factors and rumen improvers. It is also a highly efficient producer of milk. Its high protein content increases intake.
A study was carried out by the California Agricultural Experiment Station to determine the effects of feeding alfalfa hay exclusively on dairy cows. Three heifers were fed green alfalfa hay during two lactations. They consumed an average of 1.6 pounds of hay equivalent per pound of milk. They produced an average of 10.702 pounds of milk and 375.6 pounds of butterfat.
The rate of decline in the alfalfa hay ration milk yield was greater than the rate of decline in the full feed ration. The rate of decline was faster during the first month but declined more slowly in the second and third months. Averaging the two periods, the milk yield on the alfalfa hay compared to the full feed ration was 58 percent as high.
During the first month of lactation, the cows on the alfalfa hay produced the highest daily average production. During the second month, they produced slightly less. In the third month, the milk yield was 56.8 percent of the full feed, but decreased in the fourth and fifth months. In the sixth and seventh months, the rate of decline was 42.8 and 35.2 percent, respectively. In the eighth and ninth months, the milk yield was 53.2 and 53 percent, respectively. In the tenth and eleventh months, the milk yield was 32.6 and 35.2 percent, respectively.
In the first and second lactations, the cows were bred before they reached the maximum age. This affected their production. In the first lactation, one COW conceived a calf in 51 days. In the second lactation, one COW carried a calf in 155 days. In the third and fourth lactations, the cows were calved too early. The cows were also prone to vaginitis.
During the second and third lactations, the cows were prone to oestrus. In the first lactation, two cows were bred before they reached their maximum age. In the second lactation, one cow was bred before she reached her maximum age. In the third and fourth lactations, four cows were bred before they reached their maximum age. The three pregnant cows were more persistent in their yield than the four open cows.
Among various forage sources, oat hay is the most palatable and nutritious. It is a good source of protein, energy, vitamins and minerals. It can also improve rumen fermentation parameters. In addition, oat hay has higher nitrogen balance than native grass. This can reduce the incidence of diarrhea in post-weaned dairy calves.
Increasing oat hay content in diets significantly increased the apparent digestibility of organic matter. However, the nutritive value of oat hay decreased with growing degree-days. It has also shown positive relationship between oat hay intake and species diversity of rumen microbes.
The abundance of microbial taxons in oat hay was much higher than other groups. Bacteroides, Sclerotium and Prevotella were the dominant microbial species in oat hay. The microbial community was dynamic.
The oat hay group consumed more acid detergent fiber (ADF), fecal energy, and nitrogen. The oat hay group also had higher apparent digestibility of NDF than the native forage fed group. This may be related to the chemical composition of the native forage.
Moreover, the oat hay group showed higher CP and DM intake. This may be due to the high concentration of protein, energy, and fat in oat hay. The oat hay group had higher metabolic energy and WSC than the native herbage.
The oat hay group also had a lower nitrogen excretion in urine. This could reflect the degree of protein utilization by the animal. The oat hay group had a better DM yield. The oat hay group had lower OM and methane production.
The oat hay group had higher microbial diversity and species richness in the rumen. The number of cellobacteria was also increased. In previous studies, the genus Cellobacterium was only detected. The species diversity index (Simpson index) was less than the OHG. In contrast, the GEI was not significant between treatments.
The results of this study showed that the oat hay significantly improved the metabolic efficiency of the sheep. It also promoted the decomposition of carbohydrate and hemicellulose. It maintained the pH of the sheep’s rumen fluid. The oat hay group also exhibited lower methane production and improved the nitrogen balance of the body.
Comparing hay rations
Using hay rations for dairy cows involves balancing the ration to meet the animal’s nutritional requirements. The amount of forage that should be used depends on the breed and stage of pregnancy, the type of forage, and the circumstances of the farm. Research demonstrates the importance of high-quality grass forages in dairy rations.
A total mixed ration (TMR) is a ration consisting of a combination of grain, by-product feeds, and dry hay. This ration is typically created by a dairy nutritionist. It is a profitable alternative to the traditional hay ration.
A TMR usually contains 40% grass hay and 60% concentrates. The number of concentrates needed to provide adequate dry matter intake is based on the dry matter percentage of the hay. The percentage of concentrates in a TMR changes with the stage of lactation of the dairy cow.
One study compared the performance of alfalfa and perennial ryegrass silages in dairy rations. The results showed that alfalfa silage did not affect milk production. However, it consumed four pounds more dry matter per day than perennial ryegrass.
A later study compared the effects of adding tall fescue silage to mid-lactation cows. The authors found that a lower level of fescue silage in the ration improved dry matter intake, milk fat content, and feed efficiency.
The National Academy of Science published the Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle. It recommends that dairy cows should consume 1.2 percent of their body weight in NDF. In addition, the article states that this figure is not the maximum amount of NDF that can be consumed.
The forage:grain ratio in a ration should not be greater than 40 percent. This is because many NPN compounds in forage are converted into microbial protein in the rumen. This may increase the pH in the milk. It is also important to note that feeding a ration that has more than 40% grain does not provide a benefit.
It is not uncommon to find that a dairy cow will consume more forage than is expected. This is because the animal will sort for finer particles in the ration. This can cause metabolic problems.
Average daily milk yield
Several studies have been done to determine the effect of supplementing cowpea hay forage on milk production. In some cases, supplementation results in an increase in the average daily milk yield for dairy cows.
In this study, four lactating cows were randomly assigned into two groups. One group was supplemented with 3 kg of cowpea hay forage after grazing, while the other group was not. The results showed that milk yield was higher in the supplemented group than the control group. The chemical composition of the milk was not significantly different between the two groups.
The average daily milk yield for the two groups was 1078 and 1378 ml, respectively. This was higher than the results obtained in the Mali trial for the same breed. The milk yield was estimated every two weeks. During the trial, 160 milk samples were collected and analyzed.
The average daily milk yield for the cows was estimated as the sum of the morning and evening milk yield. The morning milk yield was higher than the evening milk yield. The evening milk yield was estimated by adding 15 ml to the measured milk.
The cows were fed a ration consisting of grain, hay, brewer grains and spent brewer grains. The feed intake was recorded daily. The feed intake was not significantly different between the two groups.
In addition, the results indicated that the total gross energy (GE) for the cows was higher in the supplemented groups than in the control groups. The GE for the non-supplemented group was 777 ml/day, while the GE for the supplemented group was 791 ml/day.
During the trial, the body condition scores of the cows were also measured. The milk yield differential was progressive. The differential at the last sampling was 563 ml/day. During the trial, the cows roamed about 3 to 4 km in the bush for pasture seeking.
Dairy farms use 37 to 57 gallons of water per cow. In the case of a larger dairy farm, cows may be grouped by age, breed, or parity.
A good feed practice is to harvest forage early in the growth cycle. It is best to harvest grasses before the bud period.