Friday, May 15, 2015

Feed - what do cows prefer? I prefer Oreos

Today we started a lousy task.  We started to unload the grain bin where the feed goes that entices the cows into the AMS.  It is a good mix.  It is balanced and has what the cows need to maintain health at high production.  Feeding a balanced ration ought to be a good idea.  Yesterday with feed consultants it was decided that the feed we are feeding is not palatable enough.  It has too many fines in it, and it bridges in the grain bin.  All three of these things are the pits.  So, I made the analogy to a few people today while Bronco was with me that he and I don't stop what we are doing, get up from a nap, nor leave a balanced meal to go eat a balanced meal.  We leave what we are doing for Oreos or Snickers.  So, with this mindset we changed the feed that we are using to entice the cows to the AMS.  We are providing what I think cows prefer to eat.  How do I know? I don't. But, I think, from all the articles written, what most consultants agree on, & figuring out what smells the cows prefer, a different mix than the one I had in the grain bin is needed.  We, therefore, unloaded most of the feed from the bin and have a new load arriving tomorrow.  I hope the tedious task and the new load pay off for the effort today.  We set up an auger. Then we had to beat with a rubber mallet the sides of the grain bin to get the feed that was bridged to fall into the auger. We then loaded the grain mix into a loader bucket of one of our tractors and my dad dumped it in the feed bay to be used in the TMR (total mixed ration) that we feed the cows along the manger.  A TMR is just a casserole that has all the vitamins, minerals, protein, energy, etc. that the cattle need to be healthy. 

My feed guys really helped out a bunch yesterday and today.  They really went the extra mile, in visiting me, providing information, calling feed reps & smelling and tasting ingredients to see what possibly will work best.  It was short notice, a formula change & pelleting a mix to get delivered in a rush.  I appreciate their help.  I sure hope the cows go to the feed a little bit more eager than they do the current mix. 

We spent most of the mid day and early afternoon standing in the rain, guiding the cows through the robot stalls again to get them more accustomed to the sounds, surroundings & idea of going into the stall multiple times a day.  I was soaked through a jacket, hooded sweatshirt and two shirts right to the skin.  It didn't seem like a hard rain, but it was continuous and I was in it most of the time.  A great day still and the cows are going through easier each time.

We have a few cows, like #24, a Jersey who visits the stall to eat about 9 times every 3 hours.  Her and Bronco's favorite cow, #502- June is her name, are the two that visit the most on their own currently.  I think we had about a dozen or so cows that are frequenting the robot stall on their own. 

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