Mixers and total mixed rations (TMRs) are the feed delivery method of choice in modern dairy operations in confinement. Their greatest advantage is that they allow for more even delivery of nutrients, and a steadier rumen fermentation. In fact, it is this technology that has allowed cows to fully express their genetic potential for production, encouraging greater intakes, and higher milk yields.
Cow response however is associated to the quality of the feedstuffs included in the TMR. Individual feeds can suffer deterioration when exposed to less than ideal conditions (e.g. air, heat, moisture, etc.) that lead to proliferation of microorganisms, toxins, that reduce feed quality. Molds and yeasts for example have been known to consume organic matter in silages, reducing their feeding value and/or producing toxins detrimental to animal performance and health.
Organic acids inhibit the proliferation of bacteria and fungi
Several additives have been researched that inhibit the proliferation of microorganisms. Organic acids for example inhibit the proliferation of bacteria and fungi helping maintain the nutritive value of the feed and reduce potential mycotoxin toxicity. Their mechanism of action has been proposed to be by allowing hydrogen to enter the microorganisms cell membrane, thus reducing the pH in the cell cytoplasm. Propionic acid for example, has been demonstrated to reduce pH and temperature when added to the TMR.