tmr | Animal Feed | Cattle

College of Agricultural Sciences • Cooperative Extension

Use of total mixed rations (TMR) for dairy cows
Brian P. Lammers, A. Jud Heinrichs, and Virginia A. Ishler
Department of Dairy and Animal Science The Pennsylvania State University 324 Henning Building University Park, PA 16802 (814) 865-5491 • FAX (814) 865-7442

www.das.psu.edu/teamdairy/
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Topics Include:
Advantages of a TMR feeding system Disadvantages of a TMR feeding system Feeding management on TMR systems General approach to formulating TMRs

__________________________________________________________________________________________ DAS 94-25 IVE/E

economics. B. This results in a more stable and ideal environment for the rumen microbes and increased nitrogen utilization. and health. Using feed scales allows the quantity of each ingredient fed to be closely controlled. The incidence of digestive and metabolic problems often decreases. Monitor forage and feed inventory on a regular basis and allocate to the appropriate animal groups. and maintaining physical or roughage characteristics required for proper rumen function. They can be formulated for fresh cows. TMRs can be developed for different animal groups. C. and degree of mechanization. nutrient requirement. reproductive status. facilities. Each mouthful of feed that the cow consumes contains the proper amount of ingredients for a balanced ration. 2. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ DAS 94-25 Use of total mixed rations (TMR) for dairy cows 1 . Milk production has been shown to be as much as 5% higher with a TMR. early. D. One group TMRs can be used for lactating cows with or without top-dress feeding. If all feeds are to be mixed on the farm. Various strategies can be used in TMR systems. compared to conventional rations. B. Consider herd size. 1. compared to a conventional ration of forage and grain fed separately. moisture changes in forages or high moisture feed ingredients. age. The TMR system is well adapted to mechanization with either a mixer wagon. a cow cannot consume significantly more or less of a forage or concentrate. D. allowing cows to consume as close to energy requirements as possible. 1. 2. milk fat and milk protein percent. consider purchasing and storing commodity feeds. Test forage and feeds several times throughout the year or when any noticeable change occurs. This in turn can lead to production of higher levels of microbial protein by the rumen microbes. Advantages and disadvantages of any feeding system must be weighed before choosing a TMR.INTRODUCTION __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ A. Update ration formulations based on milk production. Good feeding management practices must be followed to achieve maximum performance from cows. 4. 2. A 4-percent increase in feed utilization can be expected. This is accomplished by feeding a nutritionally balanced ration at all times. Multi-group TMRs can be used for early and close-up dry cows. animal groupings. ADVANTAGES OF A TMR FEEDING SYSTEM __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ A. C. Feeding a total mixed ration (TMR) helps a dairy cow achieve maximum performance. 3. late-lactation animals. cart or a stationary mixer with conveyors or mobile feeders. including nonprotein nitrogen (NPN). mid-. When a TMR is mixed properly. A TMR provides greater accuracy in formulation and feeding if managed properly. 1. days in milk. Cows can be grouped based on actual or fat-corrected milk. 3. and prices of current feeds. Parlor and selective feeding can be discontinued or limited to token amounts to facilitate cow movement. twice daily. current body weight and body condition scores. Improved feed efficiency often occurs with herds using a TMR.

and mangers may make a TMR system nearly impossible to use. F. H. and available storage space. and by-pass protein sources like blood and fish meal can be added to TMRs in reasonable amounts without significant reduction in feed consumption. Unique or common types of commodities are often less expensive due to bulk and direct purchasing. including what occurs during storage and handling. limestone. level of use. feed alleys. Feeds such as urea. 1. it is under the control of the person feeding the herd. Some housing and feeding facilities also may not be well suited.ADVANTAGES OF A TMR FEEDING SYSTEM (CONTINUED) __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ E. This often entails additional feed analysis. Existing buildings. A TMR system may not be economical for small herds or those using pasture feeding over an extended period of time. Total feed losses for commodity feeds. E. DISADVANTAGE OF A TMR FEEDING SYSTEM __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ A. Quality control must be maintained when purchasing commodity feeds. While this is true of any feeding system. If the diet is not balance correctly or mixed properly. This is advantageous on forage rations. C. Blending all the feeds together in a TMR can mask the flavor of less palatable feeds. Over mixing can cause serious problems due to grinding and pulverizing the feed. can range form 3% for a dry grain product to 15% for a wet product such as wet brewers grain. Mixing or blending devices needed for the ration requires small to moderate expenditures for equipment and maintenance. The quantity of commodity feeds purchased depends on rate of spoilage. Under mixing can result in less effective feed utilization by the cows. Accurate weighing with calibrated scales. B. Purchasing large quantities may not be economical due to increased inventory costs. the cow ultimately will suffer reduced performance. which also may involve additional cost and maintenance. Mixers can be purchased that handle the addition of long hay. 6. Commodity ingredients can be fed quite effectively in the diet. Purchasing should be based on quality and nutrients needed for the ration. 4. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ DAS 94-25 Use of total mixed rations (TMR) for dairy cows 2 . Care must be taken in formulating and mixing the ration. A greater variety of ingredients allow more flexibility in formulating the ration for various production groups. 3. F. fats. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for mixing. bicarbonate. not solely on price. is essential. 2. which contain excellent-quality ensiled forages that are fine in particle size. D. G. which increases the cost of the feeding system per animal-day utilized. 5. Additional costs of transportation and handling required by a commercial feed manufacturer are avoided.

Make ration adjustments when a change in forage is observed. Using a two-group TMR system for dry cows can minimize the level of metabolic and nutritional disorders observed at calving and in the postpartum period. The ideal TMR system for an entire farm would have seven main groups. Forage particles that are very fine. Develop rations based on current forage analysis reports. and certain feed additives are fed to cows in later stages of lactation.or two-group system. These cows should be fed a ration with higher levels of forage than a onegroup TMR would provide. A change in dry matter can alter the TMR drastically.or two-group TMRs. may make it impossible to have this many groups. Determine the actual dry matter intake of cows three to four times yearly. This checks the accuracy of the scales and mixing system. 1. C. Using a one-group TMR system usually results in higher feed costs because more expensive ingredients such as undegradable protein sources. 1. should be avoided in the ration. Many of the problems of the one-group system can be avoided by using two groups. three to four weeks. early and close-up. 1. a. medium. The close-up group should be cows two to three weeks from calving. heifers: prebreeding and postbreeding d. E. However. or grain that is too coarse or whole.or two. 2. although the majority of the diet must be concentrates. B. 1. young calves can be fed a small amount of a TMR. 2. the lowerproducing cows receive the same forage as the higher-producing cows.FEEDING MANAGEMENT ON TMR SYSTEMS __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ A. lactating cows: high. 3. The number of animal groups to have in a TMR system is determined by the existing herd size and layout of the barns and loafing areas. The TMR itself should be sampled and sent for analysis at least three to four times a year or when any major change takes place. Forages should be chopped properly before ensiling. For lactating cows using a computer feeder in one. If the dry matter intake exceeds 5% from the expected. In a one. This may not allow for optimal use of various forages. 3. including things like renovations and equipment purchases. Dry cows should be divided into two groups. dry cows: early and close-up . D. There are shortcomings from not feeding more than one. 5. The dry matter of ensiled material should also be checked at least every other week. the low-group cows can usually be fed cheaper forage to reduce costs. This can achieve nearly the same effect as a three-group TMR system.group TMR systems provide a way to offer higher levels of energy and protein to the heavier milkproducing cows. that ration should be reformulated. fats. 3. and c. Extremely low intakes may indicate that forage quality and/or dry matter contents have changed and may be a limiting factor to intake. Cows should be within 5% of the expected dry matter intake. DAS 94-25 2. or if it is being balanced for anions and cations. and low production b. The cost of installing a TMR system. compromises often have to be made. 2. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Use of total mixed rations (TMR) for dairy cows 3 . especially if one of them is fed according to above average group production. Lower-producing cows may become over conditioned in a one-group TMR system. Most forage particles in silage and haylage should range from 3/8 to 3/4 inch in length. 4. In a three-group system.

Maximum intake can be achieved by feeding 5 to 10% refusals in the bunk. and vitamins for the respective levels of production. First-calf heifers should be placed into a higher group than their production level to compensate for growth. Intakes may be depressed when ensiled materials undergo abnormal fermentation. G. 4. However. B. 6. The key to formulating TMRs is to optimize dry matter intake. C. When large quantities of feedstuffs are fed separately from the TMR (even two to five pounds of hay). a. Include a prebreeding and postbreeding heifer group. which can be fed to older heifers. 2. Therefore. Dry matter intake during the first two weeks post calving may average 2% of body weight. the amounts to feed will depend on the level of concentrate that is being fed in the TMR. especially for high-producing animals.to excellent-quality forages. and water quality can affect intake. Moving cows through groups in multi-group systems may control body condition in herds fed a TMR. a two-group TMR system is necessary for heifers. b. nonfiber carbohydrates. The ration differences between groups should be minimal otherwise cows will decrease milk yield significantly when they are moved to a different group. If hay or grain is fed separate from the TMR. 3. Dry matter intakes may be elevated when forage is chopped too fine and excessive concentrate dry matter is present. 5. the percent concentrate dry matter may be altered. it should be limited to two to five pounds per head per day. fat. prebreeding heifers need an energy and protein-dense diet. Other points to consider when feeding a TMR: 1. GENERAL APPROACH TO FORMULATING TMRS __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ A. young heifers lack the capacity to consume very high forage diets while maintaining proper growth. The ration should be available to the cows 22 to 24 hours daily. The level of concentrate dry matter and protein depends to a certain extent on the production level and the type of forage used (see Table 2). To ensure proper ration formulation for growth and development. D. Total dry matter intakes should be consistent with production and breed (see Table 1). energy. Palatability of forages. 6. Forage dry matter should consist of good.FEEDING MANAGEMENT ON TMR SYSTEMS (CONTINUED) __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ F. Supplemental grain feeding to high producers may be necessary in one-group TMRs. the presence of certain weeds. macro and micro minerals. 1. 5. 4. the TMR loses many of the advantages it has over conventionally fed rations. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ DAS 94-25 Use of total mixed rations (TMR) for dairy cows 4 . 2. In single-group TMRs. Follow sound nutrition practices in respect to crude protein. 1. 3. neutral detergent fiber. Limit differences in concentrate dry matter proportions to not over 10 to 15% between groups. thin cows could receive supplemental feed and overconditioned cows could be somewhat limited in amounts of the ration fed. if possible keep all the ingredients in the TMR to maximize performance and profit.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ DAS 94-25 Use of total mixed rations (TMR) for dairy cows 5 . tel. two to three weeks prior to freshening. but each farm has different goals and facilities that may or may not adapt well. F. in cooperation with the U. Direct all inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policy to the Affirmative Action Director. TDD (814) 865-1150/TTY. minerals. sexual orientation. The benefits of using a TMR far outweigh the disadvantages. admission.or underconsume. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension Work. Total dry matter intakes are regulated by the bulk of the ration and its energy density. Acts of Congress May 8 and June 30. disability or handicap. Dry cows placed in a close-up TMR should be kept on the ration until the day they freshen. The Pennsylvania State University is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to programs. 1914. Dry cows may need at least five pounds of long- stem hay along with a TMR to provide sufficient “effective fiber”. (814) 863-4700/V. Director of Cooperative Extension. race. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ This publication is available in alternative media on request. Nutrient specification for heifer TMRs are in Table 4. or veteran status. and employment without regard to personal characteristics not related to ability. The Pennsylvania State University. national origin. Department of Agriculture and the Pennsylvania Legislature. However. Where trade names appear. T. Alter. ancestry. University Park. sex. color. The Pennsylvania State University does not discriminate against any person because of age. Each case should be analyzed to find the most profitable alternative. performance. R. The Pennsylvania State University. If corn silage is fed heavily in a heifer TMR. This applies to both a regular and anionic closeup ration (see Table 3). and no endorsement by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences is implied. and vitamins do not exceed recommendations for the close-up dry cows. S.GENERAL APPROACH TO FORMULATING TMRS (CONTINUED) __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ E. no discrimination is intended. A carefully designed and well thought-out system will pay off in the long run. restrictions must be set to ensure there is adequate forage dry matter intake and that the nutrient densities of protein. 201 Willard Building. H. intakes may have to be controlled and more closely monitored to avoid over conditioning. Dry cows that are not grouped and offered one TMR may be fed limited amounts of the milk cow TMR. religious creed. facilities. G. Monitor intakes of the TMR so animals do not over. or qualifications as determined by University policy or by state or federal authorities. PA 16802-2801.

40 3.90 2.65 3.00 4.25 4.10 Small breeds 5.85 3.80 3.25 3.50 2.10 2. 4% FCM (lb/day) Dry matter intake (lb/cwt of body weight) Large breeds 100 90 80 75 70 65 60 55 50 45 40 35 30 20 4.50 4.30 4. Milk production.60 2.40 5.10 3.13 3.80 4.30 3.80 5.70 2.Table 1.85 2. Expected daily intakes of total dry matter by dairy cattle.70 3.00 2.50 3.00 3.50 _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ DAS 94-25 Use of total mixed rations (TMR) for dairy cows 6 .50 3.

40-0.30 0.50 4.30 44 11-25 70-80 100 0.20 0.30 0.50 0.25-0.20-0.77-0.72-0.500 750 1.500 750 1. %BW 17-18 30-34 62-66 34-38 0.25-0.21-0.25-0.28-0.20 0. %DM Soluble protein.80 0.68-0. %DMg Magnesium. ppm Total vitamin A.81-0. ppm Added iodine.20-0. ppm Added selenium. maximum.500 750 1. %DM Total NDF.20-0.0+ 16-17 32-36 62-66 34-38 0.50 0.00-1. %DM Manganese.28 1. ppmi Zinc.24 0. %DMg Potassium.Table 2.42 0.80 21-24 28-32 32-38 5-7 0.23 0. %DM Salt.91 0.34 1.25-0.50 0.20-0. ppm Iron.42 0. Mcal/lb DMe Forage NDF.0+ See footnotes on next page _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ DAS 94-25 Use of total mixed rations (TMR) for dairy cows 7 . %DM or Sodium.25 0. %DMh Sulfur.76-0. Guide to ration composition for high-producing cowsa ____________ Stage of Lactation __________ Earlyb Midc Late Crude protein. IU/lb DM Added vitamin D.25 0. %DMg Phosphorus.00-1.20 0. ppm Added cobalt.5+ 15-16 32-38 62-66 34-38 0. %CP Undegradable protein.40-0.21 0.50 0. %CP Degradable protein.42 0. %DM Chlorine. %DMj Approximate DMI.50 4.100 30 45-50 3.72 27-28 36-38 32-38 4-5 0.45-0. IU/lb DM Approximate concentrate.100 30 55-60 4. %DM NFC. %DMf Calcium. %DM Fat.50 0. ppm Copper.45-0.70-0.76 25-26 33-35 32-38 4-6 0. %CPd NEL.50 4.23-0.00-1.100 30 35-40 3.37 1.40-0.87 0.30 44 11-25 70-80 100 0.50 0.22-0.30 44 11-25 70-80 100 0.45-0.30 0. IU/lb DM Minimum Maximum Total vitamin E.25 0.

and sulfur.8% BW at 14 days and 3. forage NDF 24%. Limit use of brewers. part of the UIP should be furnished by animal or fish protein. DMI during the first month may range from 2. cFollow guidelines for mid lactation animals if a one-group TMR is being fed dUse more than one high protein supplement to meet undegradable protein needs (UIP). UIP 38%. and feather meal on high corn diets. grain or corn by-products.2% BW at calving to 2. the higher levels of minerals indicated and approximately 50% concentrate dry matter. distillers. NEL . fat 3 to 5%.Table 2. eNEL needs are dependent upon production level. corn gluten meal. hUse the higher potassium level during periods of hot. soybean protein or cottonseed protein to provide more lysine. molybdenum. jWhen feeding total mixed rations avoid differences between rations that exceed 10 to 15% for milking groups to avoid excessive drops in production when moving to a lower group. fFat at over 5% should be furnished by rumen-inert or by-pass fats.76. gUse these minerals at the higher level indicated when fat content exceeds 4. or founder is encountered in first-calf heifers. Often lysine and sometimes methionine are the most limiting essential amino acids. use the following modified specifications: CP 19%. Induced copper deficiency may result from excessive intake of iron. body condition scores.0%. bRefers to cows in approximately the first 15 weeks of the lactation. manganese. iUse the higher copper levels when low serum copper occurs on rations containing usual levels of 10-12 ppm.000 lb of 4% fat-corrected milk or higher. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ DAS 94-25 Use of total mixed rations (TMR) for dairy cows 8 . and deviations in dry matter intake. humid weather.3% at 30 days. Guide to ration composition for high-producing cowsa (continued) aRefers to milk production equivalent to a DHI rolling herd average of 18. On a largely corn-based ration as silage. If cows fresh less than 4 weeks are kept in a separate group or fed individually.

min 26. %CP Degradable protein.12 0.10-0.00 0.100 35 12-15 2. min — 0. ppm Added cobalt.30 0.5-14.500 750 1.5 30-38 — — 0.100 35 22-25 1. min 36.500 750 1.80-1.67 27. %DM Fat.50 3.28-0. %BW 12-13 30-38 — — 0.40 0.20 0.80 Crude protein.20-0.24 44 11-25 70-80 100 0.63-0.55 0.70-0.10 0.0 See footnotes on next page _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ DAS 94-25 Use of total mixed rations (TMR) for dairy cows 9 .5-14.32 0. IU/lb DM Minimum Maximum Total vitamin E.28-0. %DM Manganese.80-1.40-1.25-0.00 0.17 0.20 0. %DM Chlorine.55 0. %DM Calcium. %DMd Salt.500 750 1. %DM Sulfur.35 0. min 36.80-1. %DM Soluble protein.50 3.24-0.12 0.30 0. %CP NEL.100 35 22-25 1.30 0.20 0.24 44 11-25 70-80 100 0.60-0.32 0. %CP Undegradable protein.12 0. Mcal/lb DM Forage NDF. min — 1.10-0. IU/lb DM Approximate concentrate.30 0. min — 0.30 0. ppme Zinc. ppm Iron.45-0. ppm Total vitamin A.35-0. %DM Magnesium.80 44 11-25 70-80 100 0.5 30-38 — — 0.20-0.25-0.60 0. min 28.50 3.28 0. %DM Approximate DMI. ppm Copper.64 27.62-0. %DM NFC.32-0.16-0.66 27. %DM Phosphorus. %DM Total NDF. min 36.32 0. %DM or Sodium. min 26.30 0.Table 3. %DM Potassium.45-0.19 0. Guide to ration composition for dry cows Early Close-upa regularb 13.30-0. maximum.80 Close-upa anionicc 13. ppm Added iodine.32 0.10-0. ppm Added selenium.17-0. IU/lb DM Added vitamin D.30-0.25-0.

80%. K at 1.72 .2 .80 .2 = . µ/lb DM Approximate Concentrate.9 .Table 3.16 .25-.. % Salt.45 .80 .40 x 624)] = (65. or sulfur intakes. %DM Approximate DMI.45% in the close-up anionic diet may be tolerated for short periods of time (three to four weeks).3 dSulfur level of 0. or sulfur intake.3 +281.15 x 435) + (1.6) = 346.30 . manganese.3 .5 2500 400 35 60-65 2.17 .6 + 249. Large Breed Small Breed 16 25-30 45-55 45-55 . ppma Zinc.40% (all values are on a dry matter basis). %BW Approximate Forage DMI.10-. min. Guide to ration composition for dairy replacements 0-6 Mo.38 63 35 . ppm Total Vitamin A. % Potassium.77 .4 1. %CP Degradable protein.60 .25-.12 .128. Example: Calculate the cation-anion balance of a ration with Na at 0.6) .9 250 155 13 30-35 33-37 63-67 .2 1.3 . 12-24 Mo.12 . µ/lb DM Total Vitamin E. cAnionic or acidic diet with a cation-anion balance of -100 to -150 milliequivalents per kilogram (mEq/kg). ppm Added selenium. % Sulfur. molybdenum. % or Sodium.25-. and S: 624. eUse the higher or intermediate levels when an induced copper problem exists due to high iron. manganese.6 . ppm Copper.20-.24 44 11-25 70-80 100 .mEq (Cl + S). %CP Undegradable protein. Cl: 282. This is based on the simple equation of: mEq/kg = mEq (Na + K) . Factors to convert from nutrient % to mEq/kg of diet are Na: 435. %BW Estimated Bodyweight.30 .40 .24 44 11-25 70-80 100 . mEq/kg = [(0.12 .(225. % Calcium.10-. molybdenum. ppm Added cobalt. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ DAS 94-25 Use of total mixed rations (TMR) for dairy cows 10 . Guide to ration composition for dry cows (continued) aThe last three to four weeks prior to expected calving. bRegular or cationic (alkaline) diet.49 69 25 . ppm Iron.5 2500 400 35 15-20 2. Table 4.2 . K: 256.10 x 256)] .10-.8 900 700 aUse higher or intermediate copper levels when an induced copper problem exists due to high iron.20-. % Chlorine.5 2500 400 35 30-35 2.10%. % Phosphorus.3 . µ/lb DM Added Vitamin D.6 550 480 12 30-38 25-30 66-72 .22 .48 .22 . ppm Added iodine.22 .2 . and S at 0. % Manganese. Cl at 0. % Magnesium. ____________ Dry Matter Basis __________ Crude protein.80 x 282) + (0. 7-11 Mo.475.80 .65 . % Soluble protein.30 .24 44 11-25 70-80 100 . lb.20-.44 66 30 .21 .30 .[(0.15%.32 . %CP NEM Mcal/lb NEG Mcal/lb TDN% Total NDF.

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