Straw in Dry Cow Rations
A farm trial was conducted to investigate the benfit of processing straw, before it is added to a Total Mix Ration (TMR), to increase the dry matter intake for dry cows with high straw inclusions.
The far off dry cow ration contained 6kg (13.2lb) of straw and the transition ration 4kg (8.8lb), the effectiveness of these rations depends totally on good feed intakes.
Control rations were prepared using the mixer wagon to chop and incorporate the straw, as best as this equipment would allow prior to the trial. At this point feeding was already at a high standard.
Without changing anything else the straw was pre-processed to 2.5cm (1 inch) in length. When the cow’s intake increased, the portions were increased, with the diet proportions staying constant.
Once the straw was pre-processed the far off dry cows ate 25.9kg (57lb) where before they were eating 21.6kg (47.5lb) - 20% more. The transition group ate 9% more - a significant improvement in this critical stage.
"With improved and more consistent straw intakes we are better equipped to control metabolic stress in fresh cows, which can cause issues such as retained placenta and metritis. Getting off to a better start these cows have less negative energy balance and sub-clinical ketosis. Straw rations can also help prevent milk fever."
Jeremy Hamilton, Three Counties Feeds