Feed quality is the basis for profitable milk production. We all try to serve the best quality feed to our cows but as hard as we try, life on a farm brings unexpected surprises when you least expect them.
The key to dealing with the curve balls life send our way is quick identification that a problem exists and taking effective action to correct the issues at hand.
Easier said than done! Many variables affect cows. Knowing a problem actually exists may take time and judging the effectiveness of our reaction is no easy task.
This is where animal monitoring comes in…
Changes in group rumination levels can provide early warning that cows are subjected to a new source of stress.
A simultaneous drop in rumination minutes across multiple groups may point towards a broader feed-related issue. Finding the similarities between the affected groups is the best method to finding the source of the problem. Perhaps they are fed from the same batch? By the same person? From the same silage bunker?
Once the problem is identified, coping strategies can be put into action to address the suspected issues and rumination levels may be used to monitor the response to the solution.
Below is a group rumination graph from a 600-cow herd in Southwest Wisconsin affected by mycotoxins two separate times. The drop in rumination alerted management of the problem and they quickly moved to address it. Within a day, rumination levels returned to normal. Problem solved!
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