Smooth Transitions: Weaning Dairy Calves

Baby calves in a barn

Weaning calves is a very important time for your young ruminant herd. Weaning your dairy calves can be a stressful experience for you and for them. Focusing on their rumen development, their nutrition, and their health can make the weaning process significantly easier and less costly for everyone involved.

When To Wean

Although weaning age differs from farm to farm, the common age for weaning calves is between 5 and 7 weeks. Farms base their weaning age on multiple factors including, but not limited to, management techniques, calf health, cost, and amount of dry feed that the calves are eating per day.

Wean Healthy Calves

A healthy calf has a higher chance of a smooth transition to a dry feed and roughage diet. Higher stress levels can increase cortisol in blood which can increase the chance for inflammation, sicknesses, and diseases like scours and pneumonia.

Dairy Calf Weaning Nutrition

Pre-weaning nutrition plays a major role in achieving a successful weaning process. It can also help you avoid post-weaning growth stalls and illnesses. Prior to weaning the calf’s nutrition is meant to help develop the rumen with minimal disturbance to its immune and digestive systems.

Newly born calves must consume 4 quarts of high-quality colostrum within the first 4 hours of life, this can be done over a couple feedings if necessary. Colostrum intake critically impacts calf performance, health, and average daily gain, making its timing one of the most important management practices on the farm.

Calf energy requirements depend on body size, health, and environmental conditions. To maximize growth rates and weight gain before weaning, you need to provide your calves with more crude protein and energy than they need for maintenance. Star Blends can work with your dairy nutritionist to create a custom feed for your dairy calves. Our custom solutions can help you maximize calf performance, health, and average daily gain.

Rumen Development: Why Feeding Grain Early Matters

Newly born calves have an underdeveloped digestive system. At birth, the calf’s rumen is inactive, leaving the abomasum as the only active part of the digestive system. The abomasum readily digests milk or milk replacement, but the rumen must be developed to transition to solid feed successfully.

Once developed, the rumen acts as a fermentation chamber where microorganisms digest complex carbs and high-fiber feedstuffs. Ruminant animals need a completely developed rumen to digest and absorb nutrients from high roughage feedstuffs efficiently.

Water

While grain is critical for rumen development, water also plays a major role. Rumen microbes require water to grow and digest feedstuffs. Without clean, fresh water, rumen development is limited, and calves won’t be motivated to eat more grain.

The Importance of Offering Starter Feed

To achieve a higher weaning success, feeding a texturized feed with proper amount of corn and protein is extremely important. It is recommended that the starter feed is introduced within 48 hours after birth along with fresh water. To keep the calves interested in the calf starter, any feed that is older than 24 hours and/or is wet should be removed and discarded. Newly born calves will not eat the calf starter if it is wet or moldy, thus decreasing their grain intake and potentially causing issues during the weaning time. Fresh feed should be offered in a clean bucket to replace the discarded feed.

Starter feed inventory should also be considered and managed. The recommendation is that the starter feed storage does not exceed one month. The fresh feed will encourage the calves to eat it and continue eating it.

Once the calves are consuming 2-3 pounds of starter feed and the calf is healthy with good body weight of 160 pounds or more, it is time to start the weaning process. Ensure that all other management changes are minimized during this process to reduce stress. Gradual weaning has also been proven to reduce stress and improve the health of weaned calves. Reducing milk availability and keeping fresh starter feed available to calves will help make this transition successful.

Post Weaning

We recommend that calves are kept in their present housing situation and stay on their current starter feed for at least two weeks after full weaning. After those two weeks, the calves can then be gradually transitioned to a grower feed to ensure they receive all the nutrition they need to support their fast-growing bodies.

Custom-Made Feed For Your Dairy Herd

Star Blends is here for you — whether your farm consists of young calves, weaned calves, lactating cows, or anything in between. Get in touch with our team to learn about our custom feed solutions and how we can partner with you and your nutritionist.

Storing for Success: Mastering Cattle Feed Storage

A View of A Farm Silo with Tall Corn Stalks in the Foreground on a Sunny Summer Day

Your dairy cattle feed is essential to keeping your herd happy and healthy. But rodents, dirt, snow, rain, and other contaminants can affect the quality of your feed, making proper storage crucial. Learn the ins and outs of how to store livestock feed so you can keep your feed supply healthy and your cattle productive.

Why Feed Storage Is Important

The first step in making sure your cattle perform at its best is making sure their feed is as fresh and nutrient dense as possible. If stored properly, your feed will lose less nutrients over time, and you’ll have less spoilage which reduces feed waste and cost.

Animal Nutrition

Your cattle are an integral part of your livelihood, so ensuring you provide them with high quality food is extremely important. Maintaining the nutritional quality of your feed is vital for their health and productivity. Properly storing your feed can help prevent spoilage, degradation, and nutrient loss.

Food Safety

As everyone knows, health concerns in your animals could potentially cause a loss of income. To make sure you get the most out of your animals, and keep their production high and consistent, it all starts with how you store your feed. Proper feed storage can help prevent contamination and the spread of disease across your herd by minimizing the risk of exposure to pests, mold, and other contaminants.

Waste Reduction

Improper feed storage can lead to spoilage, contamination, or pests. Once your feed is contaminated, it needs to be tossed, which can be a huge cost. Proper storage can help keep your feed in its best condition and reduce waste. This waste reduction helps your bottom line and cuts down on the environmental impact of food waste.

Savings on Bulk Feed

Buying feed in bulk is a great way to save on costs. But if you don’t properly store it and have to toss feed out, it defeats the purpose. Star Blends has the capabilities to deliver to your farm with a bulk feed order, and we can also provide your farm with a custom mix created by your nutritionist!

Feed Storage Factors to Consider

The same feed storage strategy won’t work for every farm. Before you start looking for storage containers, ask yourself these questions:

  • How many animals am I feeding? The number of animals you own determines how much feed to keep on hand and what size containers you need. Feed storage for 100 cows will look different than feed storage for a herd of 1,000.
  • How many different feeds do I use? If you use different types of feed, you may need separate containers for each one.
  • Do I buy in bulk? The number of cows you have, how much feed you buy at a time will impact the storage container sizes you need.
  • What is my climate? Feed storage can differ across climates. Storage needs in a hot, humid climate may not be the same for a cold, dry one.

Feed Storage Best Practices

To know which type of feed storage containers work best, you first need to know best practices, including:

  • Keep feed in a dry, covered area to help prevent exposure to moisture, sunlight, and heat.
  • Use insect screens, rodent-proof barriers, and regular pest control methods to help prevent pest infestations.
  • Keep feed containers off the ground to help prevent access by ground-dwelling pests.
  • Use sturdy, airtight containers to help keep feed fresh.
  • Keep the feed storage area clean to help prevent bacteria, mold, and other contaminants.
  • Follow “first in, first out” (FIFO) to ensure old feed is used before new feed.
  • Label containers with the feed type, purchase date, and expiration date.
  • Don’t mix old and new feed to help prevent spoilage.
  • Regularly inspect your feed to ensure it hasn’t been contaminated.

Cattle Feed Storage Ideas

A few common storage options are feed bins, commodity bays, and barns. Each one of these options are great for farming options, but each farm has different needs for volume, space, and storage locations.

Feed Bins

Feed bins come in various sizes and styles, so finding one that fits your operation is easy. You can find mini bins perfect for small grain storage, metal bins that can last for decades, and hopper bins that make feed access a breeze.

Commodity Bays

Bays are a great way to store feed. The biggest advantage to this type of storage is that a large amount of feed can be delivered, which could help delivery costs. If you choose this option, make sure you can use up this feed in a timely manner, or you might end up with compromised or spoiled old feed!

Barn Storage

The most common form of storage is barn usage. Many farms have open pole sheds which work great because there are lots of organizational options. One key factor in barn storage is to make sure there’s proper ventilation and keep the feed off the ground to prevent pest problems and moisture buildup.

You can also store feed bags in a barn — again, keep them off the ground. They can easily be stacked to save space. The best way to keep bags, and even totes, off the ground is placing them on top of pallets.

Star Blends also has capabilities to deliver certain bagged and toted products on your area’s specific route days!

Start with Quality Feed from Star Blends

Putting the effort into feed storage will mean little if you don’t have quality feed. Star Blends is ready to help you with our custom dairy cattle feed solutions. We’ll work closely with you and your nutritionist to create custom feeds designed to support the needs of your herd. Get started today.

Your Guide to Winter Care for Dairy Cattle

holstein cow in a snowy winter scene

While cows can grow a thick winter coat to insulate against the cold, it’s essential to provide adequate winter care for dairy cattle. If shelter, bedding, and feeding suffer due to cold temperatures, your cows won’t be happy, and they will produce less milk and become increasingly susceptible to diseases.

Do cattle need shelter in winter? Does the feed quality impact dairy production in cold weather? Read on to discover the answers to these common winter cattle care questions and tips on enhancing the success and production of your dairy farm.

How To Keep Cattle Warm In Winter

Before discussing feeding cattle in winter, let’s examine what makes a suitable living area for dairy cattle during the cold season. It’s crucial for your barn and other places where cows spend a significant amount of time to be warm, comfortable, and draft-free.

Warm Bedding

Dairy cows are highly motivated to lie down for 10-12 hours daily. Lying down is a critical behavior for cows. Some cows would even rather lie than eat or perform social activities.

If their bedding is too cold or wet during the winter, cows will hesitate to lie down, which could negatively impact their health and milk production. Cows that stand for too long can develop hypoxia and ischemia due to pressure inside their claws, which increases the risk of lameness.

In addition, lying cows are more likely to ruminate and have higher milk production. Inadequate bedding or insufficient space can cause competition between cows and social conflicts. As a result, cows may become stressed, leading to various diseases.

Deep straw is one of the best bedding options for dairy cows, especially for calves. It’s critical to use warm bedding like straw after the calving season to protect calves from winter weather. On top of warm bedding, calves may also need calf jackets to maintain adequate body temperature and prevent cold stress.

Winter Cattle Shelter

Dairy cows not only spend energy to maintain body heat in winter but also to produce milk. So, if they don’t have adequate shelter during the coldest days, they won’t have enough energy and nutrients for milk production. In addition, cows exposed to extreme cold will consume up to 30% more food, increasing your long-term feed cost.

So, if you have ever wondered: how do cattle survive winter in Montana and similar US states where winters are harsh, the answer is shelter and additional feed. While cows don’t always need shelter in winter, they must have barn access during the coldest days, especially when their hair gets wet.

Preventing Drafts

Wind can make cold weather significantly worse for cows. The stronger the wind, the more effect the cold will have on your cattle. That’s why it’s vital to use curtains to cut down drafts in a barn and patch up any holes around windows, doors, and curtain ends. Outside windbreaks can be made from portable panels, round bales, and pastures with shelterbelts.

Feeding Cattle In Winter

High-quality feed for dairy cattle is crucial during the cold season. The best feed for cattle in winter often contains grains like wheat, barley, rye, and maize on top of hay, forage, and silage. Grains contain more calories and proteins, which helps cows meet their energy needs and produce milk. If your cows don’t consume more feed to offset energy loss from cold weather, they can lose body fat, making them even more susceptible to cold stress. As a result, they will need even more feed to stay warm and prevent additional weight loss.

Rationing feed and developing a feeding strategy is subjective to your particular dairy herd and its living conditions. Star Blends can work with your nutritionist to develop a specialized feed for your dairy cows for maximum cow performance, health, and well-being. We can provide feed exactly to your dairy nutritionist’s design. So, your cows can get optimal nutrients depending on their body condition, health status, and type (lactating cows, dry cows, heifers, or calves).

Nutrition plays a crucial role in your dairy cattle performance during the winter. We highly recommend working with a dairy nutritionist to determine which exact cereals, fiber, protein sources, and minerals your cattle need. Maximizing the feed potential can help you produce more milk and healthier calves while improving the body condition, health, and longevity of your entire dairy herd.

Besides feedstuffs, dairy cattle need lots of water. If cows don’t drink enough water, they won’t eat. During the summer, cows happily drink plenty of water. However, the water can get too cold for them in winter. As a result, cows can reduce water intake and, subsequently, feed intake, which means less milk and an unhappy herd. Thankfully, heaters can be used on pipes to prevent freezing or in water sources to maintain an ideal temperature range of 40°F to 65°F. Dairy cattle require about 4.5 to 5 pounds of water per pound of produced milk. If temperature or frozen pipes limit water access, milk production will suffer.

Custom-Made High-Quality Nutrition For Your Dairy Cows

Your cows need additional energy to get through the winter. Thankfully, Star Blends can help. We are here to work with you and your nutritionist to create a custom cattle feed that will provide the right amounts of nutrients and quantity of feed your cattle need to come out of winter better than ever. Contact us today to get started.

Silage Breakdown: From Crop to Feed

hands scooping green silage out of a big silage pile

When the grass is green and birds are chirping, cattle can roam free and graze the fresh pasture. But what happens when the grazing lands are covered with snow and ice? That’s when silage comes in to help your cattle meet their nutritional needs for good health, well-being, and quality dairy and meat production. 

What Is Silage

Silage is preserved forage like pasture (grass), alfalfa, grains, and corn. It’s a type of cattle feed produced by fermenting plant matter in anaerobic conditions. Silage is like pickled food but for cattle. If well made, cattle love the aroma and taste of silage, which ensures that they consume plenty of nutrients to stay healthy and continue to produce during the dry season and wintertime.

Is Silage Good For Cattle

If formulated properly and made with a quality ensilage process, silage is an excellent feed addition for cattle. They love the taste, and it provides many of the necessary fiber, protein, carbs, and micronutrients. 

However, creating adequate feed for cattle is a complex job that must take into account the cattle’s age, type, health, lactation stage, and your goals. In addition, you must pay particular attention to the nutritional value of the plants used for silage and ensure proper supplementation during various seasons. That’s why Star Blends can work closely with your nutritionist or diary consultant to manufacture unique, personalized cattle feed for your herd’s specific needs or to provide a custom supplement to amplify the quality of your silage.

How to Make Silage For Cattle

We highly recommend working with a nutritionist when making silage for your cattle. First, you’ll have to decide which plants you want to preserve in silage form. You can use grasses or feedstuffs like alfalfa, grains, and corn. In addition, you may need to adjust the plants’ cultivation process to produce high-quality silage. For example, it’s crucial to choose the right hybrid, apply appropriate seeding density, and use the correct amount of fertilizers like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. 

Different forages have different rules and best practices regarding seeding, growing, and harvesting. So, if you don’t take appropriate measures for the chosen forage, the produced silage may have insufficient fiber, carbs, or protein content.

Forage Harvesting And Cutting For Silage

It’s vital to cut the forage at a proper height from the ground when harvesting. But, determining how low you can cut depends on the plant type. For example, alfalfa requires a distance of at least 2 inches. Cutting too low or too high can negatively impact the forage quality and lead to soil mixing with it.

Harvesting is usually done when the plant has matured enough to achieve optimal levels of nutrients and moisture. After harvesting the forage, it’s time to cut it into small pieces with a forage chopper. However, it’s sometimes necessary to let the harvested forage dry before cutting for proper moisture content.

Packing And Sealing The Forage

The final step is compressing the finely chopped forage to expel any trapped air before sealing it into a silo, a silage pit, or a silage pile. Many farmers make silage piles nowadays because they are easy to make and seal. Forage should be tightly packed by driving over it with heavy machinery and sealed with plastic lining before you leave it to ferment.

The fermentation process will be completed after about 60-80 days, and you can start feeding silage to your cattle. To properly ferment and prevent yeast and mold growth, ensure the silage is completely sealed and protected from air and moisture. 

How Much Silage Per Cow

Determining how much silage to make per cow is challenging because it depends on the cow’s weight, age, health, environmental conditions, and stage of production (gestating or lactating). In addition, the silage type and quality affect how much silage you may need per cow. 

It’s a good idea to formulate a plan with a nutritionist for exact details. But, a good rule of thumb is that gestating cows will consume at minimum about 2% of their body weight daily on a dry matter basis, while lactating cows need more than that.

How Long Can Silage Be Stored

You can usually store silage for 2–3 years without a significant quality loss. But, if stored with maximum sealing in high-quality silos or pits, you can prolong its lifespan. Remember to uncover only a small part of the silage pile you plan to use in the next 2–3 days to prevent the rest of the pile from going bad. Packing silage in individual bales or bags helps to prevent unintended air exposure and can help you get more life out of your silage. 

Trust Star Blends For Custom Cattle Feed

Ready to take your cattle’s nutrition to the next level? Contact Star Blends today and let our experts develop a custom feed solution that meets your cattle’s unique needs. Or, ask about our forage solutions that can help you grow the best silage for your operation.

The Science of Cow Nutrition: What Goes into Cow Feed?

Lot of Holstein Cow eating in a milk production farm

Cows are complex creatures with unique dietary needs, and providing them with the proper nutrition is crucial for their overall health and productivity. Understanding what’s in cattle feed — and why — is not just a matter of curiosity. It also plays an essential role in making sure your herd’s health is the best it can be so they can produce the best milk or beef.

Learn all about the key ingredients of cattle feed and their role in supporting your herd’s growth, reproduction, and well-being.

Forage

Remember the human food pyramid you saw in school with grains making up the large bottom section? Well, if cattle were to have a similar food pyramid, forages would make up the largest group.

Forages include high-fiber feedstuffs like grass, hay, grain hulls, silage, legumes, alfalfa, and clover. Forage plays an important role by providing bulk, encouraging healthy digestion, and supplying essential nutrients like fiber, carbs, protein, and fats.

If you have your cows on pasture, it’s important to remember that grass can change nutritionally throughout the year. You need to make sure you are supplementing it correctly during different seasons (especially spring) to avoid diseases like grass tetany.

Concentrates

Concentrates are one of the most important cattle feed ingredients. Forage does include some essential nutrients, but grass won’t be enough to keep your cattle happy, healthy, and producing well. While forage ingredients should be high in fiber, concentrates are low in fiber. But they can be considered a concentrated source of energy and protein.

Grains like corn, oats, barley, wheat, and rye are often used as concentrates in cattle feed. By-products like brewery and distillery grains, peanut hulls, and bakery waste can also be added as concentrates to your feed formula.

Protein Sources

Protein is crucial to any cow’s diet. Cattle depend on protein for growth, maintenance, and reproduction. If your cattle aren’t getting enough, you’ll notice it in their growth.

For dairy cows, crude protein should make up anywhere from 12–18% of a feed’s dry matter (feed minus the moisture content), depending on the lactation stage. Concentrates with high protein content include soybean meal, cottonseed meal, and sunflower meal.

While concentrates provide valuable nutrition, they should be added thoughtfully depending on your cattle’s nutritional needs. You want to ensure you give your cattle a balanced diet that promotes productivity and health. Working with professional nutritionists and a custom feed manufacturer like Star Blends can help you strike the right balance between quality forage and protein-rich concentrates.

Vitamins and Minerals

The best food for cows will always have the right minerals and vitamins, which are essential for promoting growth and health. The key minerals and vitamins your cattle need include:

  • Salt
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorous
  • Potassium
  • Vitamins A, D, and E

Vitamin and mineral mixes are often added to cattle feed. If you purchase a complete feed, it should already have the right minerals and vitamins included. However, if you are creating your own feed or purchasing one that isn’t complete, you can add a cattle feed premix to ensure your herd receives the right minerals, vitamins, and other supplements.

Keep in mind that forage quality, milk production level, and body condition can affect the mineral requirements of your cattle. It’s best to consult a professional to make sure you’re including the proper amounts in your feed.

Water

Just like all mammals, cows need water — and lots of it. Not only does water help keep your cattle hydrated, but it is also important for facilitating digestion, regulating body temperature, supporting milk production, helping with nutrient absorption, and maintaining general health. Cows should consume about 25 gallons of water per day, or 3 to 5 pounds per pound of dry matter eaten.

Trust the Experts at Star Blends for Your Cattle Feed

Don’t compromise on your cattle’s nutrition. Partner with Star Blends and experience the transformative impact of custom feeds. Our team will work with your nutritionist, and we will help manufacture unique, personalized feed mixes that address your herd’s specific needs. Contact us today about a custom feed mix for your cattle.

Got Milk or Got Beef? Dairy Cows vs. Beef Cows

dairy cows in a green field

Just because two animals belong to the same species, it doesn’t mean they’re fit to perform the same tasks. After all, you wouldn’t take a Yorkie on a hunting trip, would you? The same goes for cattle.

To the average person driving by, a cow is a cow. But those working on a farm or ranch know that dairy cattle and beef cattle are far from the same. Learn the key differences between dairy and beef cows, including what to feed them for optimal productivity.

What Cows Are Used for Milk?

Dairy cows are always female and selected for their milk production capabilities. Common dairy cattle breeds include Holstein, Jersey, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Ayrshire, and Milking Shorthorn. While the breed may differ, dairy cows normally have larger udders, thin bodies, narrower legs, and longer necks.

Can You Eat a Dairy Cow?

In short, yes, dairy cows can be used for meat. However, they put their energy toward producing milk instead of producing fat and muscle like beef cattle. They don’t have the quality meat on their bones you’d expect from a good cut like ribeye or sirloin.

Dairy cows aren’t raised with the sole purpose of producing meat, but they can’t keep calving and milking forever. Once a dairy cow is retired, it may be sent to slaughter and used for cheap ground beef.

Dairy Cow Feed

Dairy cattle feed has three main ingredients: grass/forage, concentrates, and vitamins and minerals.

Grass

When determining what to feed a milk cow, quality forage will be the foundation. Your feed should start with a base of grass, which is where your cattle will get a good amount of their crude protein. A cow needs 1 pound of crude protein to produce 10 pounds of milk. The grass can come in the form of silage, hay, or pasture grasses.

Concentrates

Grass is not enough to meet a dairy cow’s nutritional needs, though. Concentrates are another source of crude protein or energy to include in your feed. Some examples of concentrates you can add include cereal grains, brewing byproducts, corn gluten meal (great source of protein), and soybean meal.

Vitamins & Minerals

In addition to grasses and grains, your dairy cattle will need the proper vitamins and minerals to support high milk yields. Sodium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium are some minerals and vitamins to focus on when making or choosing cattle feed.

Dietary needs will vary depending on their stage, like lactation or dry periods. Working closely with a nutritionist and partnering with a custom feed manufacturer like Star Blends can help ensure your herd has the nutrition they need, no matter what stage they are in.

What Cows Are Used for Meat?

Beef cattle can be either male or female and are selected based on their ability to gain fat and muscle. They have stockier, muscular builds and can withstand harsh conditions. Common beef cattle breeds include Angus, Hereford, Holstein (when not used for dairy production), Braham, and Simmental.

These cattle produce more quality meat, like steaks, roasts, and high-quality ground beef. Other parts of the animal (bones, hide, fat, etc.) can be used to create byproducts like broths, leather, gelatin, pet food, and more.

Do Beef Cows Produce Milk?

Unlike dairy cows, beef cows put their energy toward building muscle and fat instead of milk. Beef cows still technically produce milk but only make enough to feed their calves. They produce about 1 or 2 gallons a day, far below the average 6 to 7 gallons produced by dairy cows.

Beef Cattle Feed

What do you feed a beef cow? Similar to dairy cows, beef cattle feed is based on grass and concentrates. However, beef cattle usually eat more grass than their dairy counterparts. Beef cattle also tend to primarily be on pasture due to their high grass diets and the fact their stockier builds can withstand outdoor conditions.

Beef rations usually consist of forage or pasture, concentrates (corn, barley, wheat), and protein sources (soybean meal, canola meal, alfalfa). The ratio of grass to concentrates varies depending on frame size. If you have larger cattle, you may need to decrease the grass while increasing the concentrates.

You also need to consider the stage and type of cattle you have. Feed will differ for calving cows, weaned calves, replacement cattle, and grower and finisher cattle. A professional nutritionist can help you determine the appropriate feed profile needed for your beef cattle at different stages and sizes, and the Star Blends team can formulate a custom feed to meet the nutritional needs.

Beef or Dairy, Get the Right Nutrition with Start Blends

Whether you’re a dairy farmer striving for optimal milk production or a beef cattle producer focused on high-quality meat, Star Blends can create a custom feed designed to meet the specific needs of your herd. We believe every cow deserves a customized nutrition plan, regardless of its purpose. Contact us today to get started.

What Is Animal Feed Premix and Is it Right for Your Operation?

man checking in on dairy cows

Nutrition plays a significant role in the health, productivity, and overall well-being of your cattle and other livestock. You want your cattle to be in the best shape and produce the best milk or beef possible, which means you need to pay close attention to what you feed them.

Many farmers and ranchers incorporate premix into their cattle’s diets. But what is premix, and how can it help your operation? Learn the basics of premix so you can decide if it’s the right move for you.

What Is Feed Premix?

Animal feed premix is a blend of vitamins, minerals, supplements, and other nutritional ingredients designed to provide a balanced diet and meet the specific nutritional needs of your livestock. It’s blended with other feed ingredients — like grains, roughage, and protein sources — to optimize your feed’s nutritional profile.

Whether you’re focused on reproduction, development, growth, or maintenance, having a cattle premix full of the right micronutrients can help.

Premix vs. Complete Feed

Some feeds may provide plenty of energy and protein but lack the nutrients necessary to support the performance and health of your cattle. Premix can be added to these feeds to ensure your animals’ nutritional needs are fully being met.

Complete feeds, however, are made to be the sole source of nutrition for your cattle. Their formulas should have all the grains, protein, and micronutrients needed to maintain and promote animal production. A complete feed should already have premix included in its formula, so nothing needs to be added.

How Is Premix Used?

Premixes come in strong concentrates and are not meant to be directly fed to your livestock. Instead, premix is added to your normal feed in very small amounts. You need to carefully and accurately measure the premix before combining it with your feed to make sure your cattle receive the right amount of nutrients.

How much premix you add depends on the premix formula, the nutritional goals you have for your livestock, and the feed you add it to. It’s best to work with an animal nutritionist and strictly follow any guidelines and instructions provided by your premix manufacturer.

How Can My Operation Benefit From Cattle Feed Premix?

If you aren’t already using a complete feed, you risk nutrient deficiencies and your cattle might not produce at their full potential. Adding a premix can combat malnutrition while offering tons of other great benefits.

Premix makes up a very small portion of your final animal feed, but with the right formula, its impact can be significant. Premix for cattle feed can help your animals produce quality milk and beef, support them through different stages of growth, and improve their health and immunity.

Plus, when your cattle receive all the right nutrients, it can help cut down on feed consumption. Less feed means less cost, and when you combine that with increased productivity, it can make a huge difference for your bottom line.

How Do I Pick a Feed Premix Manufacturer?

There are tons of animal feed premix manufacturers, but you don’t want to trust the well-being of your livestock with just anyone. A quality feed premix requires a knowledgeable manufacturer who will care for your animals as if they were their own.

While standard, ready-made premix is an option, these premixes can be inconsistent in quality and formula. And if your livestock have any dietary restrictions or need specific nutritional support, selecting the right premix becomes even more important. You’ll want to find an experienced feed manufacturer who can create a custom premix blend that meets the exact needs of your livestock.

Custom-Made Premix and Feed for Your Cattle

Star Blends is here to help make your life easier and ensure you have the best feed and nutrients possible at an economical price. Whether you need premix or complete feed, we want to provide you with high-quality feed custom-made for your cattle. We’ll even work with your private nutritionist! Get in touch today to learn how we can help you, your cattle, and your bottom line.

More Blog Posts

From Grass to Glass: How to Boost Cow Milk Production

Whether you run an operation with a large herd of dairy cows or just own a cow or two for personal use, you understand how important high milk production is. When your cows are lacking proper nutrition, it could mean losing out on profit or not having enough milk for yourself and your family.
Read More →

From Grass to Glass: How to Boost Cow Milk Production

cows being milked

Whether you run an operation with a large herd of dairy cows or just own a cow or two for personal use, you understand how important high milk production is. When your cows are lacking proper nutrition, it could mean losing out on profit or not having enough milk for yourself and your family.

If your dairy cattle aren’t achieving your production goals, you don’t have to accept it. With the right nutrition and care, you can help boost milk yield.

What Affects Milk Production in Cows?

Many factors play into cow milk production. Some are outside your control, such as breed, age, and climate. Other factors you can control, like cow comfort, daily milking frequency, dry periods (time between calvings), and feeding and nutrition.

How Does Feed Intake Affect a Cow’s Milk Production?

In simple terms, more feed intake means more milk. You need to maximize feed intake to support milk production, especially during the early lactation and pre-fresh stages. According to the University of Kentucky, for every extra pound of dry matter (feed with the water subtracted) consumed, an early lactation cow can potentially produce two extra pounds of milk.

When a dairy cow does not consume enough feed (and therefore not enough nutrients), milk production is negatively impacted. At best, the cow may not milk as well as usual. At worst, the cow will start to rely on its own fat stores to produce milk, leading to an underweight cow incapable of producing milk.

You don’t want to go to the other extreme, either. Overweight cows may also have lower yields, and you have to worry about more difficult calving and added veterinary costs. Ensure you are feeding your cattle enough without overfeeding and compromising their health.

How to Increase Milk Production in Your Cows

Monitoring your cows’ health, providing comfortable accommodations, reducing stress, and following best practices for milking and dry periods can all help with milk production. However, none of that will mean much if you don’t provide your cattle with the proper nutrition. If you want to boost milk production, focus on the feed.

Consistent Feeding

As mentioned earlier, feed intake is crucial for supporting milk production. You should prioritize keeping plenty of high-quality feed in front of your cattle. Some recommended practices to follow include:

  • Giving cattle access to feed for 22–23 hours a day
  • Not allowing feed bunks to become empty
  • Pushing feed up every 2-3 hours
  • Refreshing feed at least twice a day
  • Cleaning out feed bunks daily
  • Rotating cows on pasture and providing any necessary supplements

Start with Quality Forage

Quality feed starts with a base of quality forage. Ensure your forage is free from contaminants, which can lead to mold and yeast growth and poor fermentation.

A high-quality forage will encourage higher feed intake because low-quality forage does not pass through the stomach as well. Plus, forage with low contaminant levels can preserve the forage’s nutritional integrity.

Provide the Right Nutrients

Even with a great feeding routine and high-quality forage, your cows’ milk production will be lacking without the proper nutrients. Don’t overlook crude protein and the amino acids that compose it.

Crude Protein

Depending on the stage of lactation a cow is in, crude protein should make up 15–17% of the total dry matter.

Amino Acids

Amino acids make up protein. Lysine and methionine are two amino acids that play a crucial role in milk production but are often deficient. It’s not uncommon for cows to be overfed protein to make up for lysine and methionine deficiencies. But overfeeding protein can be expensive and impact your cows’ productivity.

Nutritionists have started to balance for amino acids to combat methionine and lysine deficiencies and prevent protein overfeeding. Feed that is balanced for amino acids can lead to increased milk yield and increased milk components. Working with a nutritionist can help ensure your feed ration has the right ratio of lysine and methionine to keep your cattle producing at their full potential.

Custom-Made Cattle Feed for Milk Production

Cattle nutrition depends heavily on age, weight, environment, and breed. There is no one-feed-fits-all solution for keeping your dairy cattle at peak production levels.

When providing your cows with the nutrition they need, turn to the experts at Star Blends. Our team can create custom feed tailored to your herd’s specific needs, helping you achieve optimal milk production and overall herd health. We’ll work directly with your nutritionist to ensure your cattle’s needs are being met. Contact us today to learn how we can help keep your cattle healthy and happy.

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