The goal in feed bunk management is to obtain maximum dry matter (DM) intake by ensuring that a fresh, palatable, balanced TMR is available to all cows.
As herd productions increase, DM intake is the key factor in maintaining production. The following are various aspects of feed bunk management.
• Feed should be uniformly spread throughout feed bunk.
• Cows should have a minimum of 18 inches and up to 30 inches feeding space.
• Feed sorting should be evaluated, and feed refusals should be scored based on uniformity. Feed refusals should be very close in appearance and composition to the TMR fed if no sorting of feed occurred. Be particularly aware of forage or large particle sorting in feed bunks.
• Feed refusals should be cool and smell fresh. Hot, moldy feed refusals indicate an extra feeding may be necessary.
• Total feed refusals should be about 5% of total fed and removed daily.
• Push feed up into mangers 2 to 3 times during a 24 hour period.
• Feed bunks should be empty no more than 2 to 3 hours per day.
• Observe cows when feed is delivered. Sick or lame cows tend to hang back and not come to the bunk when fresh feed is offered.
• Feed bunks should have a smooth surface for ease in cleaning and promote better feed consumption.
• Cows should be eating with their head down in a grazing position for best feed intake and saliva flow. This position also discourages feed tossing.
• Check water supplies daily for availability and freshness.
Feed deliveries in early morning or late afternoon coincide with times cows most frequently consume feeds. EL
James G. Linn, University of Minnesota, St. Paul