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Feed Quality Resources for Dairy and Beef Cattle

3 Steps to Making High Quality Hay

It is commonly recommended when baling and storing hay, we should target moisture levels of 18 to 20 percent moisture for small square bales and 14 to 16 percent moisture for larger bales. Baling drier than these recommendations can lead to excessive leaf loss and consequent loss of protein. If hay is baled wetter than these levels, an organic acid preservative should be used to minimize heating, molding, losses of dry matter and nutritive value.

Making High Quality Baleage

Individually wrapped, high-moisture alfalfa bales, often simply called baleage, has been around for a long time. The ability to cut hay in the morning and store the hay in a tightly wrapped package before rain reduces forage quality, is extremely appealing. Not only does baleage offer risk management against weather, the increased palatability of baleage also results in less waste compared to dry hay especially when fed in round bale feeders.

Exporting Acid Treated Hay

One well known tool used to improve the quality of their hay is the application of organic acids like propionic acid. Because organic acids help control the growth of mold, producers may bale hay with a moisture percentage of over 20% and reduce the concerns of mold spoilage and spontaneous heating. Oftentimes, spontaneous heating is measured using heating degree days (HDD), which is like the growing degree day concept. Baling moist hay is often a compromise between a risk of bale heating and retaining more leaves.

3 Tips for Harvesting and Storing Frost-Damaged Silage

Late corn planting this year will naturally increase the risk of frost damage before producers can harvest corn silage. Furthermore, recent weather forecasts favor an early fall. It is an ideal time to review how to handle frost-damaged corn silage.

Addressing Mycotoxins Helps Solve a Complex Problem

Heat, energy, water and oxygen: they’re four essential elements critical to just about every form of life on the planet. Provided those things, even the most infinitesimally small organisms can flourish. In the case of mycotoxin-producing molds, that vigor can become costly for livestock producers. Mycotoxins are toxic secondary metabolites that are produced by mold in stored grain or growing plants. The production of mycotoxins is essentially a defensive response by the growing mold triggered by an environmental factor, like temperature, oxygen, pH or moisture. 

Using Aluminosilicate Anti-Caking Aids to Minimize the Impact of Mycotoxins on Performance

Managing mycotoxin contaminated feed ingredients is a constant challenge for animal producers. Mycotoxins are produced by both field and storage molds, and – even when fed at low levels – can have a detrimental impact on livestock and poultry performance. To make matters worse, grains are frequently contaminated with multiple mycotoxins, and research suggests toxic synergies may exist with certain mycotoxin combinations. Absorption of mycotoxins by the gastrointestinal (GI) tract may result in immunological dysfunction, malabsorption of nutrients and ultimately, losses in weight and performance.

Making High Value Hay

The steps to making high value hay are straightforward. We can control most of these steps with the exception of the weather. Long periods of warm, rainy weather in the spring can be problematic, causing the alfalfa to mature beyond the ideal bud stage. It’s also a challenge in the Midwest and Northeast regions to bring in the first cutting without early season rain damaging hay while lying in the field. However, the other factors are under human control, and if we do the best we can at each phase, we are well on the way to making high value hay.

Combat Summer Heat and Preserve Nutritional Quality of Total Mixed Rations (TMR)

Summer heat and humidity provide several challenges for dairy producers. One important challenge often overlooked is heating of the dairy ration. Dairy cattle rations, even when sitting in the bunk for just a few hours, may experience secondary fermentation due to continued bacterial growth because of high heat. Secondary fermentation causes a reduction of feed quality, generates undesirable odors and may result in reduced intake. To help restrict secondary fermentation, control growth of undesirable microbes, keep rations cooler, and maintain feed quality, producers often add mold and wild yeast inhibition product to the total mixed ration (TMR).

Mycotoxin Management: What Can We Do Now?

Mycotoxins are toxic and/or carcinogenic molecules produced by growing fungi, specifically the various mold species which grow on plants. The toxigenic fungi involved in the human and animal food chains belong mainly to three genera: Aspergillus, Fusarium and Penicillium. Each of these molds can produce more than one toxin and some toxins are produced by more than one mold. Once we have mycotoxins in our crop, what options exist for livestock and poultry producers?

Fat, Feed and Oxidation

The hot summer weather is beginning to wind down now – but it’s always a good time to ask, “how is my fat looking?” Monitoring the quality of your incoming fat sources is the primary step in effective fat management. The impacts of oxidation are irreversible, so it is crucial to begin with high-quality fat and then maintain that quality. Oxidized fat that has been negatively impacted by heat, light and oxygen can have a damaging impact on your animals. This impact can be seen across performance, health and nutrition through decreased growth, immunity challenges, loss of energy content in the fat itself and an array of other issues.

The Importance of Quality Testing

Knowing the quality of the components going into your livestock feed is crucial to the success of your operation. Most formulation software packages assign standard nutritional values for the components in a diet. But, what happens when the quality of these components does not match that assigned by the software program? You may not see the impact of nutritional variability of the diet in your day-to-day livestock performance, but it can ultimately manifest itself in feed intake, daily gain and animal health over time.

Mycotoxins: Managing a Perennial Problem

Livestock and poultry producers are all aware of the presence of potentially-harmful mycotoxins in grain. It seems every day there is a new report declaring the newest hot spot for mycotoxin contamination. So, why does it suddenly feel like mycotoxins are found everywhere? A large reason for the increased focus on mycotoxin contamination is reporting. There is a growing database related to the detrimental impact that even low levels of mycotoxins can have on livestock production. With this increased awareness, the focus now shifts to signs and symptoms of mycotoxin contamination and what producers can do to mitigate their impact.

Mold, Mycotoxins and Gut Health...OH MY!

Feed represents the largest expense in the yearly budget for livestock and poultry producers. To control feed costs, feed ingredient buyers often seek the best price for these inputs. The best price for feed ingredients may not always be the best value. The quality of individual feed ingredients delivered to livestock and poultry production complexes need to be more fully scrutinized to determine the value of individual ingredients. The quality of feed components should be subject to review by purchasing staff; however, to ensure quality is monitored closely, purchasing and production staff must be closely aligned. Feed ingredient buyers need to be aware of quality when purchasing the feed ingredients for a livestock and poultry operation. The profitability of the business depends on it.

Don't Let it Go to Waste: 10 Tips for Long-Term Grain Storage

If you asked any farmer, they would agree that harvest is one of the best times of the year. Nothing brings that overwhelming feeling of satisfaction quite like watching the combine hopper fill with the fruits of their labor. During this time of "harvest celebration" it may be easy for one to think all the work is done. However, when it comes to maintaining the quality of grain after harvest, the work hasn't even started.

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