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Focus on Low K Forage

Although sodium (Na) content of grasses varies by species, the values are low, compared to K. Because grass has potential for very high K concentrations, K receives the most attention. It is desirable to minimize K content of grasses (K < 2%) to produce an anionic diet for dry cows. Consideration may also be given to increasing the energy content of the ration during the late transition phase, using corn silage or gain. The increased energy from these sources may help improve the cow’s physical condition as well as dilute the higher K levels of other forages in the diet. Rations for dry cows based predominately on corn silage, however, are discouraged.

If perennial grass is managed specifically for production of dry cow forage, relatively high yields of low K forage are possible. A tactical solution is to manage 10 to 15% of your forage production specifically for dry cow forage. Several feeding problems associated with lactating cows can be minimized if low K forage is available for dry cows.