Increasing your feed pushing frequency pays off – it stimulates frequent feed consumption throughout the day and night, resulting in a higher feed intake among your cows. This not only has a positive effect on animal health, but also improves fertility, production, and your financial results.
Benefits of frequent feed pushing
A healthy cow is a productive cow, and one that eats 10 to 14 meals of fresh feed a day. For this reason, it is vital that feed is always available at the feed fence. This ensures an optimal, stable pH level, and a more efficient use of feed.
When cows cannot access feed regularly throughout the day, an intake of a large quantity of rapidly fermentable feed causes an extreme drop in the animals’ pH. This can lead to sub-clinical rumen acidosis, which damages the rumen wall. Furthermore, the feed passes the rumen too quickly, while the bacteria that ferments the crude fibre are ineffective at a low pH.
Regular, frequent feed pushing is important to keep your cows healthy. It encourages them to come to the feed fence more often and fill up their rumen again.
Optimal feed intake and constant availability
Fresh feed is the best motivator for cows to come to the feed fence. When you use a feed wagon, feeding two to three times a day achieves an optimal balance between the amount of work you put in and the optimal feed intake. At the same time, you’ll need to push the feed 6 to 8 times per day to ensure your animals have constant access to feed.
Less pressure on front legs and neck
Frequent feed pushing also has a positive effect on claw health. Since feed is literally within reach for all cows, they no longer need to reach for their feed. This lowers the pressure on their front claws and necks.
When there is a limited feed supply, subordinate cows are often chased away, causing them to make sharp turns which also put extra pressure on their claws. This can lead to claw-related problems.
Stress and aggression at the feed fence occur when feed is limited or difficult to access. Subordinate cows will always have to wait until more dominant cows have finished their meal. They’ll eat quickly and often a lesser amount. If there is always sufficient palatable feed available, this stress will be greatly reduced.
Less rest feed
By regularly pushing feed and having it always within reach, feed selection is almost impossible as the cows are encouraged to eat everything. This results in a decrease in rest feed.
6 - 8 rounds of feed pushing per day reduces the amount of rest feed by approximately 50% compared to 2 - 3 rounds of feed pushing.