Research| Volume 33, ISSUE 4, P401-408, August 2017

Total mixed ration recipe preparation and feeding times for high-milk-yield cows on California dairies


      The time to prepare and feed a TMR recipe and how consistently these tasks are performed on commercial operations have not been described. The objective of this study was to provide baseline data by describing within and across dairies the time to prepare and feed the high-producing-cow ration and the time elapsed between ingredient loads during recipe preparation. Twenty-six dairies in California housing 1,100 to 6,900 cows were enrolled. Records from a 12-mo period were extracted from the feeding management software (FeedWatch 7). Interquartile range (IQR: Q3–Q1) was used as a measurement of variability. Median recipe load preparation time ranged from 9 min 18 s to 27 min 0 s. Recipe preparation time was relatively consistent (IQR <3 min) on 4 dairies but inconsistent (IQR >6 min) on 3 dairies. Time from recipe preparation to start feeding ranged from 1 min 54 s to 9 min 0 s, with a within-dairy variation (IQR) ranging from 50 s to 10 min 50 s. The median recipe load feeding time ranged from 90 s to 10 min 48 s. Six dairies were relatively consistent (IQR <1 min), but 2 were not (IQR >5 min). The median time elapsed between ingredient loads ranged across dairies from 40 to 84 s. On 8 dairies often (15 to 49%) there were <30 s between ingredient loads; likely, leftover ingredients were not returned to the commodity barn. Consultants and owners can evaluate feed management software records to identify short, lengthy, or variable recipe preparation times relative to our baseline data.

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