As the person mixing and delivering feed to the cows, you have one of the most important jobs on the dairy.

The dairy depends on you to deliver the same ration to the feedbunk that was formulated by the herd nutritionist. By paying close attention and following these easy tips, you can achieve the goal of delivering the ration intended for the cows to eat.

It’s important that the same ration the nutritionist prescribed is delivered to the cows, since nutrition is the primary influencer of milk production and cow health. The ration provides the nutrients cows need to perform their best. If the ration isn’t mixed properly, it can negatively affect how much milk cows produce, if they become sick and how quickly they get bred.

Follow ration changes closely
Different feeds are delivered to the farm on a regular basis and these feeds are not always the same in quality or nutrient value as the previous delivery. This variation can cause the ration to be changed often to provide all the nutrients the cows need. Here are some tips on how to best ensure cows get the right diet the nutritionist prescribed:

1. Pay close attention.
Because specific feeds and feeding levels vary, pay extra close attention to ensure the right amount of each feed is added to the mixer. On some dairies a weight of each feed is recorded to make sure you are providing the right amount of each ingredient. Even if you don’t have this type of system at your dairy, weigh each ingredient as if someone is monitoring the exact levels you’re feeding. This will help you be more precise in your delivery weights.


2. Follow instructions.
In many instances you’ll have an order in which the feeds should be added to the mixer wagon to ensure a consistent ration reaches the feedbunk. You may also have specific instructions on how long the feed should mix, if water should be added and how feed should be delivered, among other details of the job. Follow each of these directions to provide a quality and fresh total mixed ration to the bunk.

3. Don’t take shortcuts.
Even if no one is watching, don’t take shortcuts to complete tasks faster. The herd nutritionist and manager trust you to complete the task of mixing and delivering a high-quality ration. Managers will have a good idea how much of each feed should be mixed and delivered each day, so when you take a shortcut, it won’t go unnoticed. If you are asked to add bagged feed ingredients into the mixer, someone will notice if you skip this step because the feed will not disappear at the rate of the other feeds. Provide every feed called for to deliver the most complete ration, even if it takes a couple extra minutes.

4. Ask questions.
If you have questions about a change that was made to the ration or the feeding sequence, ask your manager. By asking questions you can ensure the proper ration is delivered while learning how to properly perform your job.

Don’t take your important job lightly—you have a great influence on the performance and health of the cows on your dairy. Because this is such an important task, pay attention to the details and follow directions. This will help you do the best job you can, help the cows produce high levels of milk and maintain herd health throughout each lactation. EL

Elliot Block
Animal Nutrition

This article topic also appears inProgressive Dairyman. This article has been written specifically for dairy employees. The article inProgressive Dairymanis written for dairy owners and herdsmen.

El Lechero recommends dairy teams read the articles and then discuss how to apply these principles on their own dairies.