Sometimes change occurs in unexpected ways. And sometimes, unexpected circumstances are the only way to change.
Despite knowing that it was not ideal for our cows’ diet, we had been feeding grain during milking. This wasn’t done with ill-will toward the cows. On the contrary, the cows were rather partial to this twice-daily treat.
Several years ago, David quit feeding in the barn, and the disgruntled cows simply refused to come in to be milked. He gave in and resumed feeding. We made some improvements to this feeding last winter, but all the pertinent research shows that it is best to feed dairy cows a TMR (total mixed ration), in which all the components of their ration are blended together.
Several months ago, a few of our feeders quit working. By the beginning of December, one whole side was basically useless. Inconsistency can cause problems, and each cow might eat a little different ration day-to-day depending on the milking order. In addition, the cows were very difficult to run in on the side without working feeders.
Finally, we quit using the feeders altogether. The cows were pretty ticked at first, but over a few weeks they adjusted, and things started going more smoothly. Now with a more consistent diet, and a true TMR, they’ve picked up on milk a little. It has been decided – the feeders won’t be fixed! We are officially done feeding in the barn!
This is extremely exciting for two reasons. First, fixing the feeders was an unfinished task that had been hanging over our heads for a month, and second, we’re doing the best thing for our cows, even if it wasn’t what they thought they wanted. I suspect this is how parents feel when they get their kids to eat their veggies.