Roughage. The main source of fiber, which is necessary for the normal functioning of the ruminants, the synthesis of microbial protein. Types of roughage: silage, hay, straw, haylage. Silage is grass that has been ‘pickled’. It is a method used to preserve the pasture for cows. Haylage preparation technology is similar to silage technology, but haylage retains more dry matter, it is less acidic than silage. The grasses are cut and then fermented to keep as much of the nutrients (such as sugars and proteins) as possible. The fermentation is carried out by special silages inoculant and microscopic organisms living in the grass. Straw refers to the plant material that is left over after grains like wheat and barley are harvested. The stems left behind become straw. Most of the nutrition of grain crops lies in the grain. The stalks that are remaining – the straw – are generally very low in quality and not very healthy for animals. Straw has humidity of 18-20%. Hay is made from plants that are good and healthy for animals to eat. This could mean nutritious grasses like ryegrass or bermudagrass or from legumes like clover or alfalfa. Hay will often be a mixture of plants that can make it more nutritious. Growers need to be careful to not include plants that are poisonous. Hay is typically produced on perennial crops and often on land that may not be suitable for grain production. As such, it provides a valuable use for lands that would not be productive for other things.
Daily 1 cow requires 10-30 kg of silage, 0,5-3,5 kg of hay.
Green feed. This is the grass of pastures, legumes, and sedges. Green feed is one of the cheapest. At the same time, they have a high biological value and contain vitamins, minerals, lipids, and B vitamins. Green grass has a high content of carotene,150-280 mg per 1 kg of dry matter. Legumes have the greatest nutritional value in this group, cereals are in second place, and grasses are in third place. For dairy cattle farms it is normal to grow alfalfa, and clover grass to provide continuous green feed but it is not a modern approach.
By-products of the food industry. Many byproducts from the oil seed industry have been available for years. Often times, byproducts can vary considerably from processing plant to plant, sometimes based on feedstuff used or variation in processing methods. Even when byproducts are used as a supplement in grazing situations, it is still very important to know the quantity of major nutrients, such as protein and energy, but at times, mineral levels can be very important too. In some cases, minerals that are present in very high levels can limit how much a byproduct can be fed. The list of by-products includes molasses, corn gluten feed, distiller’s grains, brewer’s grains, soybean hulls and etc.
Cattle respond positively to the use of treacle and molasses in the diet. Molasses is a viscous substance resulting from refining sugarcane or sugar beets into sugar. Molasses varies in the amount of sugar, method of extraction, and age of the plant. About 35 kg of sugar, 540 kg of raw pulp, and 40 kg of molasses are obtained from a ton of sugar beets. Molasses contains 65% of dry matter, which is instant sugar. This is a very tasty and fast energy product that is absorbed by the cow's body by 90%. Molasses stimulates dry matter intake, and rumination, increasing the digestion of feed.
Distiller’s grains are an excellent source of RUP or bypass protein. The importance of this will depend on the type of cattle fed and other ration components. In some cases, with lactating two-year old heifers some research has indicated an improvement in rebreeding performance when the RUP requirements are met. The main reason corn byproducts have increased in popularity is they are often priced very competitive with other supplements, especially during the summer months when cattle numbers in feedlots are lower than in fall and winter. One of the major problems with the dry commodity products coming from the processing plant is that they are in either meal form or in some cases, a relatively soft, small pellet. The qualities of the corn byproducts is such that it is very difficult to make a quality range cube, so the feed industry must add other feed ingredients such as sunflower meal or wheat mids and this increases the cost.
Compound feed. Compound feed for cows includes grains that give energy to animals, protein ingredients, vitamins, and minerals, as well as ingredients that can supplement the ration and increase the productivity of cows and improve their health (protected fats, live yeast, and other feed additives).
Corn, oats, wheat, and barley are the primary grains fed to cattle. These ingredients have good energy level content and there is an excellent source of carbohydrates that cattle required.
Sunflower, soybean, and rapeseed meal is a common source of protein for ruminants. This list also includes by-products feed (brewers' grain, distillers’ grain, cotton seed, gluten feed).
Depending on the period of lactation and gestation, the compound feed includes 25 to 60% of the diet. This is an addition to the relatively cheap roughage feed, which is the basis of the diet. Their productivity and health depend on the balancing of the cow's daily ration with compound feed.
Feed intake is the key factor in maintaining high milk production. Cows should be encouraged to maximize their intake during early lactation. Each additional kg of dry mater consumed can support 2-2.4 kg more milk. Feed intake by the dairy cow is influenced by many factors including level of production, forage quantity and quality, feed digestibility, feed processing, feeding frequency, consistency of ration ingredients etc.
Roughages are feeds high in fiber. The DMI from roughage determines the amount and type of the grain required in the ration. An economical feeding program is one based on high consumption of high quality roughages. Roughage intake depends on forage quality, cow size, and grain levels. Lactation cows can consume 1.8 to 2.2% of body weight daily as DM from average quality dry roughage.
A daily ration guide according to the content of nutrients is given in the table.