Evaluating Dairy Feeder Performance
Researchers from California evaluated dairy feeder performance based on loading deviations from target weight. The study, published in the Journal of Dairy Science, included 26 dairies located in the San Joaquin Valley and ranged in size (lactating and dry cows) from 1,100 to 6,900 cows. Feeding records were obtained throughout a 12-month period from the software FeedWatch v7, and it included information from high cow rations (including 511,554 ingredient loads) and high cow premixes (72,726 ingredient loads). In summary, these were the main findings:
• In 2.5% of the total loads, ingredients were loaded under the target weight set by the tolerance level (deviation allowed per ingredient during loading), representing between 0.1 to 21.1% loads of feed per dairy.
• When expressed in kilograms, at least 20% of the time ingredients were loaded with a deviation from target >40 kg on 7 dairies or • Rolled corn and almond hulls were loaded with adequate precision (on a minimum of 64% of the dairies) and adequate accuracy (on at least 68% of the dairies) while alfalfa hay, corn silage, and canola were loaded with poor precision (on a minimum of 60% of the dairies).
• As a result of deviations from the target weight, the high-producing cow ration cost increased by at least $3 per metric tonne 20% (2 dairies) of the times. It also decreased by $3 per metric tonne 20% (1 dairy) of the times.
In conclusion, the authors (Trillo et al., 2016) stated “our results indicated that some dairies were able to load ingredients with minimal deviation from target weight, suggesting that some poor-performing dairies could set higher goals for loading accuracy and precision on their operations”.
Fernando Diaz, DVM, PhD