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Extension > Agriculture > Dairy Extension > Calves and heifers > Good feed bunk management can improve the bottom-line

Good feed bunk management can improve the bottom-line

Dr. Hugh Chester-Jones
Animal Scientist, SROC

Neil Broadwater
Regional Extension Educator-Dairy
Neil Broadwater, Regional Extension Educator-Dairy

May 20, 2005

Feeding management as a consistent process is not new. It was extolled in the Henry and Morrison Feeds and Feeding textbooks nearly 100 years ago. Technological advances have not diminished its importance.” Those words are quoted from a paper by Dr. Robbi Pritchard, Dept. of Animal and Range Sciences, South Dakota State University presented at the 9th National Dairy Calf and Heifer Conference in Sioux Falls, SD, in late March, which we both attended.

Bunk management seems so simple. Just deliver the planned amount of feed into the bunk that has been balanced for the dairy heifer group, stand back, and watch them eat and grow. However, most producers who raise heifers know it is more complicated than that. Bunk management can be greatly neglected by not paying attention to that final important step of feeding – the nutrient and energy intake by the dairy animal. Dr. Pritchard states that “the objective of good bunk management is to ensure that daily nutrient requirements are met, that over-consumption of rapidly fermentable carbohydrates by individuals is avoided, and that feed wastage is minimized.” Efforts need to be concentrated on the two most important keys to good bunk management: Improved Feed Efficiency and Reduced Daily Feed Costs.

Here are some important considerations for proper feed bunk management for dairy heifers:

0

Slick concrete

1

Small feed particles

2

Many feed particles, concrete visible

3

Feed covers less than one inch of the bunk

4

Feed covers more than one inch of the bunk

5

Feed not eaten

For heifers, bunk scores should be around “1” .

Minimum Feed Bunk Space Requirements ( Midwest Plan Service).

 

Age in months

Type

3-4

5-8

9-12

13-15

16-24

 

------------- inches/animal ---------------

Self feeder

 

 

 

 

 

  Hay or silage

4

4

5

6

6

  Mixed ration, grain

12

12

15

18

18

Once-a-day feeding

 

 

 

 

 

  Hay, silage, or ration

12

18

22

26

26

In conclusion, managing the feeding process on a consistent basis on the farm is not new. Even with today’s technologies, it involves attention to detail, everyday. With good bunk management, feed efficiency is improved, there is the assurance of meeting the nutrient needs of the dairy animals being fed, feed wastage is kept to a minimum, and feed costs are under greater control.

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