|3 Time on The Line||August 15, 1998|
It's a Matter of Diet - Fit For a Cow.
(In this article, Mr. Harwood will answer the question: How much does a dairy cow eat?)
You must first understand that a cow is a ruminant This means that she has a four compartment stomach designed to digest fibrous (forages) feeds. The largest area in the
stomach is like a large sealing tank where there are a large number of microscopic bugs. These bugs live and grow in the cow's stomach by
breaking down the feed. These bugs die and are digested by the cow. In this way the microscopic bugs take the nutrition from the forage with them as they are being digested.
When we feed our cows at SCI we must be thinking of the organisms that live inside the cows stomachs and provide a proper environment for them to grow and to multiply. A good quality forage is needed because it is easier for the bugs to digest and it can quickly be converted into useful nutrients which are used by the cow to keep her healthy, grow a calf and to produce milk
It is important that a cow receive lots of nutrients when she is milking. The energy she needs to produce milk is obtained from nutrients and the more milk she produces the more nutrients she will need. If she doesn't get enough feed she will use the reserve fat she has on her body and this will cause her to become unhealthy and produce less milk.
All cows need protein, energy, vitamins and nutrients if they are to maintain their bodies and grow calves. They get these from a daily intake of good quality hay. if they are producing milk however, they will also need a formulated daily ration of grain which not only contains protein and energy but extra vitamins and minerals as well. Additionally, cows also require lots of fresh water, somewhere between 20 and 25 gallons per day.
In very general terms, a dairy cow should get all the good forage (hay) she will eat and then add a few pounds of the rationed grain mix. Keep in mind that a cow will consume about 4% of her body weight in dry feed each day. Approximately 3% to 3.5% of this should be a high quality forage.
Here is an example: A 1500lb dairy cow will consume about 60lbs of dry feed each day. 45lbs to 52lbs of this should be forage and the rest should be a grain mix. If a cow is eating hay and this hay contains about 20% moisture she will need about 60lbs of hay daily, plus the grain. If a cow is out to pasture and the fresh grass she eats contains about 90% moisture she will need to eat about 550lbs of this grass to take in the forage and thus the nutrients she needs daily.
The above example explains the feed requirements for just one cow for just one day. How much would 25 cows require? The figures below will show how much bay we will need to store to feed 25 cows for the coming winter.
By: Mr. Dan Harwood.