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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Byproduct feeds in dairy rations

Dairy Pipeline: May 2004

Tina Horn
Extension Area Dairy Agent,
Augusta County
(540)245-5750 email:

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:

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