On-Farm Dry Matter Analysis to Improve Feed Delivery Precision on Dairy Farms
French, Karin R.
Kohn, Richard A
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Uncertainty in dairy ration content impacts feed efficiency, milk production, expenses, and environmental losses. When measuring silage by weight, unknown changes in dry matter (DM) may change the total mixed ration. The objective of this study was to measure variation in silage DM on selected farms and evaluate an electronic method of on-farm DM analysis. Of 31 Maryland farms surveyed, 63% reported DM analysis by an on-farm method, 83% by any method including laboratory measurement. Eight producers performed DM analysis daily for 21 days using a Farmex 1210 Electronic Silage Tester (on-farm) and they recorded precipitation; matching samples were analyzed for DM in a laboratory after oven drying ("standard" method, 55°C followed by 100°C) and by using a Farmex 1210 (laboratory). The standard deviation of mean silage DM varied from 0.72% to 3.33% DM, depending on farm. The electronic method compared poorly to standard DM analysis for most farms.