Nutritionist Terry Dvorachek is in expansion mode. That’s because his clients are, too. Within a few weeks, Mountain View Dairy in Luxemburg, Wisconsin, will open a new freestall barn and expand its herd from 600 to 1,100 cows. To prepare for the expansion, Dvorachek has been stretching out the dairy’s forages. “What I’m trying to do is keep tabs on the inventory of their feeds and look for feeds that would fit their feeding program,” Dvorachek says. That includes finding good nutrient profile matches for the dairy’s forages, such as soybean meal/canola meal to feed with its haylage and corn gluten feed for its silage. Pairing forage nutrient profiles with off-farm commodities amounts to what Dvorachek calls, “forage stretchers,” which help the dairy make the most of its available forages. “Don’t be afraid of buying products,” Dvorachek says. “Don’t be afraid to look at different products to buy to help address forage and energy needs.” Dvorachek currently feeds a ration that includes 38 percent corn silage and 18 percent haylage. To help make the dairy’s forages last longer and feed more cows this year, the ration has included ensiled peas and oats and Western baled hay. Both commodities have helped to “fill the gap” in meeting the growing dairy’s forage needs. After the expansion is complete, Dvorachek plans to transition the dairy to a ration that includes 55 or 60 percent silage. He says this will be possible because this fall more of the 400 acres owned by the dairy, where most of the dairy’s forages are grown, will be harvested in corn silage, which has a higher yield per acre than alfalfa or other crops. “In our area, we are becoming corn silage-driven,” Dvorachek says. “Our farms are getting larger, and producers just simply can’t produce enough haylage alone to feed their animals anymore.” As the percentage of corn silage in his rations have increased, Dvorachek says he’s also monitored fungus toxins. Within the last year, Dvorachek has found mycotoxins and aflatoxins creeping into silages. In turn, he has added a mycotoxin binder in Mountain View’s ration and in other dairy rations he consults in the area. “A lot of dairies are adding in a mycotoxin binder as a status quo ingredient,” Dvorachek says. “It’s an extra 12 cents per cow per day, but when you do the math, if you eliminate some abortions, how do you put a value on that?” To prepare for expansion, dairy owners, Mark and Al Seidl, had to overcrowd a few of their pens. It’s an added stress that Dvorachek says both he and the dairy’s owners have been “limping through.” To help minimize stress and competition at the feedbunk, Dvorachek says he’s focused on keeping the ration digestible, and he’s added extra minerals. Heat in late August and early September compounded stress and limited milk production in overcrowded pens, but Dvorachek says that minus the heat the ration and its added minerals have performed well and the cows have transitioned through the expansion process well. PD