Feed bunk management – Ensuring enough feed for all cows

By Betsy Hicks and Joe Lawrence

Even when producers put up the right quality of feed for a class of cows, ensuring that all cows have enough feed is a goal that has a few components to consider. Too much competition from other cows, not enough feed delivered, and a lack of communication between the farm team can all be threats to each cow consuming her daily allotment. When the farm team works together to ensure cows have adequate feed and their management allows for normal daily cow needs of rest, rumination, drinking, socialization, and eating, productivity is bound to increase.

Achieving and measuring silage density

By Betsy Hicks and Joe Lawrence

The topic of silage density in storage has garnered a great deal of focus in the last few decades, but it remains a key opportunity area on many farms for its role in 1) minimizing storage losses and feed quality deterioration, 2) optimizing the footprint of stored feed and resources committed to feed storage, and 3) allowing for accurate inventory calculations and management.

Strategies to ensure quality forage for the entire dairy herd

By Betsy Hicks and Joe Lawrence

While weather is a constant challenge to maintaining forage supply, producers can control other threats to having enough feed. Mismatched storage capacity and lack of planning or design, incorrect estimates of feed quantity, inaccurate estimates of feed quality, and spoilage are four major areas where producers risk ensuring enough forage is available to feed the herd. Both harvest quality and management of feed in the silo have profound effects on silage quality at feeding. By harvesting feed at the appropriate quality and managing it carefully in the bunk, the risks of running out of feed are minimized.

Corn silage forage quality: Hybrid genetics versus growing conditions                                      

By Joe Lawrence and Allison Kerwin

Over the past four years a number of groups in the Northeast have initiated efforts to increase collaboration and enhance our understanding of corn silage hybrid forage quality through existing Corn Silage Hybrid Evaluation programs. This collaboration includes Cornell University, Penn State University, Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania, University of Vermont, Western New York Crop Management Association, and the University of Maine. The group has focused their efforts in three main areas: 1) aligning trial methods and report formatting to allow better cross-referencing of trial data from the various programs, 2) focusing on emerging forage quality parameters to improve the metrics utilized for better cross-referencing of trial data from the various programs, 2) focusing on emerging forage quality parameters to improve the metrics utilized for hybrid comparisons, and 3) utilizing data from across the region to better understand the influence of growing conditions on hybrid performance. This collaboration allowed us to identify a small subset of hybrids entered into multiple programs over the last two years. Differences in performance between the same genetics in different growing environments and different genetics in the same growing environment of this subset were compared.

Red clover: The other high digestible legume

By Tom Kilcer

In today’s tight dairy economy, every acre, just like every cow, needs to be profitable. Adding red clover in a tight economical rotation, teamed with winter forage, can do that.

Next steps for better silage yield maps

By Ben Lehman, Dilip Kharel, Karl Czymmek, and Quirine Ketterings

With yield monitor technology, silage growers can see the impact of management changes in every field section over time. Unfortunately, even with calibrated equipment and best operator practices, yield maps can look pretty confusing without some post-harvest processing. Worse, maps that have not been properly cleaned can be misleading. Using a strategy called “yield data cleaning,” growers can make decisions using yield data with more confidence and little added effort or cost.

Best timing of harvest for brown midrib forage sorghum yield, nutritive value, and ration performance

By Sarah E. Lyons, Quirine M. Ketterings, Greg Godwin, Debbie J. Cherney, Jerome H. Cherney, Michael E. Van Amburgh, John J. Meisinger, and Tom F. Kilcer

Forage sorghum is a drought- and heat-tolerant warm-season grass that can be used for silage on dairy farms. Since it requires a soil temperature of at least 60°F for planting, the recommended planting time for New York is early June, unlike corn, which is usually planted earlier in the spring. This would allow time for a forage winter cereal harvest in mid- to late-May prior to sorghum planting. Forage sorghum also has comparable forage quality to corn silage for most parameters except for starch, which is typically lower in forage sorghum. The main question for this research was: Can forage sorghum be harvested in time for establishment of a fall cover crop or winter cereal double-crop in New York? To answer this question, we conducted seven trials in central New York from 2014 through 2017 to evaluate the impact of harvesting at the boot, flower, and milk growth stages versus the traditional soft dough stage on the yield and forage quality of a brown midrib (BMR) forage sorghum variety.