Variation in a ration caused by the mixing equipment can affect cow performance. Paying attention to the equipment during the mixing and feed delivery process can help maximize feeding programs. To help mix and feed a consistent ration, Vic Wilkerson, a dairy nutritionist with Purina Animal Nutrition, based in Oregon, offers these four tips:
1. Evaluate uniformity of mix-Evaluating particle size distribution per animal group using the Penn State Shaker Box is one way to assure mixing uniformity. Take samples at several points across the load-out and repeat the evaluation throughout the load. Compare the results to determine variation in the feed available to the animals approaching the feed bunk.
2. Look for dead spots-Areas inside the mixer where feed doesn't get mixed are considered dead spots and can be a problem because they prevent ingredients from mixing properly.
3. Monitor feed volume and mixing time-Improper mixing occurs when too much feed is added or if the feeding equipment is improperly sized for the operation. If the length of time a load is mixed is an issue, consider adding a timer in the mixing unit so all operators mix the same per load by animal group.
4. Establish a maintenance plan A maintenance plan should be established to check the mixing unit for wear and tear on the blades, knives, kicker plates, discharger, doors and load cells.
Source: Purina Animal Nutrition