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Byproduct feeds in dairy rations
Dairy Pipeline: May 2004
Extension Area Dairy Agent,
(540)245-5750 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are a variety of byproduct feeds available in Virginia and a variety of reasons why dairymen may want to incorporate them into the diets fed to cows or replacement heifers. Byproducts are typically used to combat low quality and/or low quantities of home grown forages and in some cases are used to improve rations containing low fiber, highly digestible feeds. Byproducts can be utilized as a protein, energy, or fiber source, but most often are used to stretch forages. The past few growing seasons have resulted in greater interest in these feed sources. Depending on location, dairy farmers can be dealing with shortages of corn silage, small grain silage and/or hay. Weather conditions during corn silage harvest in 2003 not only affected tonnage, but also quality and palatability in some areas. Byproduct feeds may also be a way to help keep the protein up in rations without "breaking the bank." When determining whether to purchase and feed a certain byproduct, several things should be considered:
- Is this feed economical? Will this feed increase production and/or reduce feed costs enough to pay for the additional cost? Is it an economical source of fat, fiber, protein, or energy to compliment forages being fed?
- Can I effectively manage this feed? Do I have a way of incorporating it into my ration? Do I have adequate storage? Can I use this feed up in the recommended amount of time (an important consideration when dealing with wet byproducts)?
- Is the byproduct available year-round, or is it seasonal?
- Is this product palatable and easy to transition cows onto and off of?
- Are there any other costs associated with feeding this product, and if so, is it still economical to use?
Virginia Cooperative Extension