Are you optimising your TMR?

We discuss how a TMR audit could benefit your herd's productivity.

Are you optimising your TMR?

Everyone knows cows like routine for milking and feeding times, so why should the ration you put in front of them be any different? The aim of the total mixed ration is for every mouthful to include the correct balance of nutrients, calculated by your nutritionist. If this is unbalanced in any way it means your cows will not be reaching their full potential. To ensure your cows are getting the same mouthful every time we carry out a TMR audit.

How can the TMR audit benefit you?

There are 3 main benefits to the farmer by looking closer at their TMR presentation:-

1. Increased intakes
• Increasing intakes will improve milk produced from forage and overall yield.
2. Reduced risk of Sub Acute Ruminal Acidosis (SARA)
• Minimising sorting and making every mouthful the same for the cow means the diet formulated should maintain the rumen pH.
• By manipulating the fibre length we can
still keep the ‘scratch factor’ for buffering the rumen pH.
• Alterations to the presentation of the TMR for no extra cost could save you the cost of SARA at £300/cow.
3. Milk solids
• As more milk contracts are becoming orientated around milk solids, increasing fat % in milk has become a focus for many.
• Why add a poor ME straw or hay to the diet to increase fat when you could keep a higher ME grass silage in the diet and still increase fat %?
The TMR audit looks at everything involved in feeding from clamp face management, loading the wagon through to assessing the particle size of the diet. The particle size of the diet is a major factor in the performance of a cow; by feeding smaller particle sizes we put the cow at risk of acidosis. On the other hand, having the particles too big reduces intakes and increases the risk of sorting, again leading to inconsistent dung and risk of acidosis. Both of these scenarios end in reduced yield and unhealthy cows, so lets look for a happy medium where the cows get the fibre to increase cudding with ‘scratch factor’, but small enough particles to allow a higher rate of passage and increased intakes. This will drive yields. From the results of the TMR audit, recommendations may include changes to the loading order, mixing time and load size. The report may advise parts to be replaced in the wagon for more effective mixing. Another suggestion could be as simple as how centrally the feeder is loaded. The graph (Figure 1), shows the effect of filling concentrate too far towards the front. The lines on the graph for the bottom pan and middle sieve cross over showing the first half of the trough has smaller particles compared to the second half - meaning half the cows will get more concentrate than the others. The idea of increasing your margins by making small changes to your daily routine is very appealing, why wouldn’t it be? A TMR audit is a cheap way to get more milk and healthier cows. If you feel your TMR presentation isn’t as good as it could be please get in contact with us.

Figure 1 Consistancy of % left in pan thoughout trough length



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