Creating total mixed rations (TMR) is the goal of every producer, but making sure the rations are well mixed, consistent and fresh can be a challenging prospect.
Don Martell, a Ruminant Field Technical Specialist with Diamond V, has offered up several tips for creating consistent TMR for your dairy herd: Manage the moisture and nutrient variation in forages, keep a consistent grind on corn and high-moisture corn, use on-farm premixes, monitor the feed bunks for consistent TMR intake, and control the factors affecting TMR mixing.
When auditing operations, Martell says the most common issues found with TMR mixing are worn parts (23.2%), the mix time after the last ingredient is added (13.5%), the quality of the processed hay (10%) and having over- or under-filled mixers (6.2%).
Depending on the type of mixer you are using, over- or under-filling can range drastically. For vertical wagons Martell recommends filling to 75-95% of struck volume. Those using Reel Horizontal Wagons should fill to about 70% of its maximum volume. Martell recommends those using a 4-Auger Wagons to fill to about 75% of its maximum capacity.
Minimizing the TMR sorting can also help with creating consistent rations for your herd. There are several things you can do to minimize the sorting required for TMR: Reduce the forage particle size to 2 inches or less, increase the forage quality to improve the palatability for your herd, add 5-10 pounds of water per cow per day to wet the feed ingredients, feed the herd more frequently, and push feeds up more often.
Martell says having a properly set up Lely Vector feeding system and monitoring the TMR mixer is another way to ensure TMR.
The Vector’s kitchen only requires filling every three days and the grabber can be adjusted for precision feeding. The system estimates weight and automatically corrects accordingly, making sure the cows are fed exactly what they need.
To learn more about how the Lely Vector can lower your feed and labor costs, as well as increase your milk production, click here.