Evaluating wet feedstuffs for dairy cows


Wet feedstuffs derived from the food and ethanol industries are valuable additions to cattle diets, when available within reasonable distance from the farm. They not only provide required nutrients, but their moisture content helps condition total mixed rations (TMRs), increases their palatability and reduces feed sorting by livestock. Depending on their water content and price, however, their purchase can turn into a questionable economic decision.

Where your farm is in the U.S. determines which wet feeds are readily available close enough to justify their hauling to the farm. This article addresses the wet form of beet pulp, brewers grains, distillers grains, gluten feed and grape pomace (also known as grape marc). We will discuss their composition and what factors to consider when evaluating their incorporation into dairy cattle diets.

Nutrient variability There are multiple nutrients one could evaluate to compare feeds. In this article, we will concentrate on those macronutrients that weigh more heavily on the end price of a ration. Table 1 shows the composition of some common wet feedstuffs.

When looking at the feed composition in Table 1, the first thing that catches the eye is their dry matter (DM) and, of course, its opposite – their water content. For every ton of wet material purchased and delivered to the farm, the dry feed content ranges from around 450 pounds for gluten feed to 240 pounds for wet brewers grains and/or beet pulp.

Continue reading this article published in Progressive Dairy