F E E D I N G
Improve cow well-being and productivity with modern grasses
Better grass, big improvements Using Barenbrug’s Green Spirit, Marvo Holsteins saves money, while providing a high protein, highly digestible forage component in their herd’s total mixed ration (TMR). by Jesse Bussard
o help their herd of 2,400 dairy cows achieve maximum performance, Marvo Holsteins feeds modern grasses, specifically Barenbrug’s Green Spirit, in their TMR. They use EZFeed feed management tools to accurately mix and deliver their ration so that the diet fed is the same as the diet formulated. Michael Oosten, owner of Marvo Holsteins in San Jacinto, California, first heard about Green Spirit in an article telling of another farmer, Bruce Scott, who was using the modern grass as a nutrient management tool on his operation in southern California. However, it wasn’t until his neighbor, also growing the forage grass, moved away that Oosten decided to take the leap and give Green Spirit a try.
CMUS02_barenbrug feature.indd 24
SPR I NG
“He told me about all the benefits and how it was yielding really well, more than alfalfa, and the test results on the earlier cuttings were even better than alfalfa,” says Oosten. “So that got my wheels turning.” When his neighbor moved, Oosten took over management of the operation, combining it with his own, and incorporated Green Spirit into the crop rotation plan. That was three years ago. Today, Oosten says, “The benefits have been tremendous through the test results, palatability, yields, and lower cost to produce.” Green Spirit is a summer grass best suited for cool climates, but Oosten manages it as a winter grass in a moderate climate.
The first cutting is around 15th December
“We have our best success with late September, early October plantings,” he says. “We usually get our first cutting around the 15th of December.” To increase yield and decrease lodging in the first cutting Oosten interseeds a cereal grain, usually oats or triticale, with Green Spirit. “With the first three cuttings it’s not a surprise to have protein up well over 30 percent on a 100 percent dry matter basis,” says Oosten. “It’s just fabulous milk cow feed.”
Nutritional values decline As they progress into the fourth, fifth, and sixth cuttings, Oosten says protein and other nutritional values start to decline. Even with the decreasing quality, he comments, “It’s still pretty digestible and good feed.” Oosten notes at times, such as when it rains and they are unable to green chop