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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

TMR Audits Reveal What Could be Standing Between You & the Perfect Mix

These cows can't get enough of the  thorough,
consistent TMR Patz Vertical Mixers provide!
As every ag producer knows, feeding a thorough, consistent TMR is essential to maintaining a healthy herd and a high level of production. Nutritionists provide the "paper" recipe for a herd's ideal ration, but more often than not, the actual ration fed is not that "ideal" mix. Jim Dickrell of Dairy Today explored this discrepancy in an interview with Dr. Tom Oelberg, field technical services specialist.

Over the past several years, Oelberg has conducted 80 on-farm TMR audits to help producers improve TMR consistency and feeding efficiency. Each audit requires that he carefully observe the feeding process, paying particular attention to the condition of the mixer, mixing order, and mixing time. Ten feed samples from the load are run through a Penn State shaker box. According to Oelberg, ration consistencies with variations over 5% indicate some mixing issues while variations over 7% indicate serious problems.

Throughout his TMR audits, Oelberg identified the following as major contributors to mixing problems: 
  • Mixer overfilling. Fill vertical mixers to 75-90% of struck volume (at least to top of screws).
  • Worn mixer parts. Perform regular mixer maintenance, replacing worn parts as needed.
  • Not mixing long enough. Resist the urge to cut mixing time short.
  • Improper loading of liquids. Load liquids in the middle for vertical mixers.

Based on his observations and shaker box tests, Oelberg has adjusted the mixing process for each farm he has audited, and producers have seen impressive results. Milk responses of 1-2 lbs/cow/day are common, and some have reported 0.2-0.4 percentage point increases in butterfat!

Source: "Audit Your TMR" article by Jim Dickrell. Dairy Today, November 2010 issue.

Are you feeding your herd a thorough, consistent TMR? 
Take the "Candy Test" to find out!

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