Aim of this study was to evaluate the management of the TMR (total mixed ration) feeding system in 15 Holstein Friesian (HF) and 15 Simmental (FV) dairy herds. Parameters that are used to control the feeding management were checked for their feasibility and their informative value in practice.
The determination of the particle sizes of TMR with the Penn State particle separator (PSPS) showed that in comparison with American standard values the rations appeared to be high in structure. On average 33.9 % coarse, 23.4 % middle and 42.7 % of fine particles were found in the TMR. Therefore selective consumption was favored which could be demonstrated by analysing the feed refusals. The part in the upper sieve increased in 31 from the 36 rations by more than 10 %.
Due to the most common harvest technique of grass with a pick-up truck grass silage was very long. Therefore the investigation of particle size distribution with the PSPS was not successful. The analysis of the dry matter content in the microwave was simply done and the results were comparable with oven drying in the lab (R2=0.61).
Observation of the rumen fill showed that 68 % of the FV and 76 % of the HF cows in milk had the desired score of 3. 61 % FV and 77 % HF dry cows didn¿t show enough rumen fill. Faecal consistency was acceptable for most cows but the undigested fraction was very high for most faecal samples.
Evaluation of the body condition score showed that in total 14 % of the grouped and 18 % of the ungrouped cows in milk were overconditioned. In addition 24 % of grouped and 36 % of the ungrouped dry cows were too fat. On the other hand on the single-phase TMR 9 % of cows in milk and 14 % of dry cows were in poor condition in contrast to 14 % and 14 % of the grouped cows. An individual analysis of FV and HF cows showed that the BCS score in a total of 24 % of the FV and 15 % of the HF ones was higher than the acceptable value compared with 15 % FV and 5 % HF cows in undercondition.
In 17 herds more than 30 % of the cows were at risk of acidosis. By decreasing forage to concentrate ratio the part of cows with a FEQ less than 1.1 increased. Furthermore we found a lack of crude fiber in the ration as well as a high selective consumption of short particles. In contrast the evaluation of the FEQ resulted in only 8 herds with more then 10% of cows reaching a FEQ over 1.5 (ketotic range). Just as the results of the BCS showed, grouped and ungrouped cows did not differ significantly.
It can be concluded that the TMR feeding system might also be successful under Austrian conditions. Dividing the lactating cows into two groups did not show any essential advantages compared to a single fed TMR.
total mixed ration (TMR) / feeding management / Penn State particle separator / BCS / microwave / rumen fill / faecal consistency / ration calculation / fat to protein ratio