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Diet Change Reduces Volume Of Manure
Feeding dairy cows a limited corn-based diet could reduce the amount of manure, they pro-duce, according to research by an Ohio State University animal scientist.
Instead of allowing cows to eat as much forage as they want, Steve Loerch is feeding cows a limited, high energy corn diet that ensures cows get needed calories and nutrition while eating less.
"We're trying to provide cows with the same amount of nutrients per day by packing it into a smaller package," Loerch says.
Corn is almost twice as digestible as for-age, and recently Loerch began looking at the correlation between the corn diet and manure production. Less undigested feed means less manure, he says.
For example, in one study a group of Holstein cows were fed a high-forage diet - 70 percent forage and 30 percent corn - while another group received a high corn diet - 13 percent forage and 87 percent corn. Both diets provided an equal amount of calories and nutrients but the cows fed the high corn diet ate 30 percent fewer pounds of feed and excreted nearly 40 percent less manure.
One drawback for farmers who depend on manure to fertilize fields is that the corn diet cows excreted almost 20 percent less nitrogen and more than 30 percent less phosphorous.
Interestingly, the study showed the corn diet to be cheaper. The forage-based diet cost $1.76 per cow per day, while the corn-based diet cost only $1.38. Feed costs were based on $2.80 per bushel corn and $80 per ton hay.
Loerch says the diet will work with beef cows, too.
"Beef producers can save up to 70 cents per day depending on the price of hay," he says. "Beef farmers and nutritionists eight years ago said you couldn't limit-feed beef cows, but we've done it for seven years and it's saved money and reduced manure."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Steve Loerch, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center/OSU, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, Ohio 44691 (ph 330 263-3900). (Story excerpted from Farm Talk)

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1998 - Volume #22, Issue #5