These days, dairy farmers have plenty of reasons to cry over spilled milk. Growing environmental stress, a 50% drop in milk exports to China, and shortages of hay and other grasses throughout the Midwest are thinning the possible profit margins for dairy farmers. If dairy farmers are going to keep their expenses in check, every member of their herd needs to derive the most nutrition possible from their feed.
The good news is that you can maximize dairy cattle feed efficiency without betting the farm. Using the right amount of Tasco® seaweed supplement in your feeding formulation can increase the ability of dairy herds to use the nutrients and minerals available in the food they’re already eating. Here’s what you need to know:
Historically, dairy cattle needed to consume large amounts of grains compared to forage to support higher milk production. Even with the increased digestive efficiency that ruminants such as cows have, there are nutrients that pass through their GI systems unused. In addition to selectively breeding cattle that exhibit a higher feed to gain ratio (F:G), dairy farmers need to think about supplements that can stimulate more active digestion at the gut level.
For example, the prebiotics available in seaweed such as Ascophyllum nodosum help to maximize the utilization of dry food matter. Prebiotic compounds feed the good gut bacteria in a cow’s microbiome, which in turn improves the animal’s ability to absorb nutrients and ward off harmful pathogens. As a result, the milking portion of your herd accesses more nutrients for milk production and the non-milking portion (calves, heifers, dry cattle, etc.) more cost-effectively use the nutrients in their feed.
How much seaweed in your feed does it take to achieve measurable results? As with any supplement, it’s an important question to ask. You don’t want to swap out grains with dry matter that carries a similar expense without considerable results.
In trials conducted in central Arkansas, dairy farmers replaced 0.25% of their feed with Tasco® seaweed feed supplements over the course of a year. Since high heat and humidity decrease milk yields, one of the major goals of the study was to compare the milk production and milk components of cattle fed Tasco®. The end results of the trial were definitely worth noticing.
In all cases, cattle fed our seaweed feed supplement produce more milk under greater environmental stress. For some of the large-frame dairy cows, that translated to an extra 5.1 lbs per day. Using a relatively small amount of seaweed, dairy farmers can go a long way to cutting their herd-related expenses and growing their margins.
Want to learn how dairy farmers in your region are improving their feed efficiency with Tasco® feed supplements? Request a trial from your area.