Akins is a an assistant scientist and dairy extension specialist with a focus on dairy heifer nutrition and management. He works with the Marshfield Agricultural Research Station to conduct heifer research studies to evaluate nutrition and forage feeding strategies to control heifer growth and costs of production.
The use of cocktail forage mixes (BMR sorghum-sudangrass, Italian ryegrass, clovers, hairy vetch) as part of the dairy forage system has become more popular the past few years due to weather impacts, alfalfa winterkill, and increased opportunity for manure distribution. However, limited yield and quality research data are available. The objectives of this study include 1) evaluate yield and quality of cocktail forage mixes using on-farm data, 2) evaluate how management factors (seeding depth, row spacing, and red clover varieties) affect forage mix growth and quality, and 3) assess cocktail forage mix fermentation quality and lactating cow performance when fed diets with or without the cocktail forage mix. The goal of this study is to understand forage mix quality and yield and provide relevant data so farmers can make informed cropping and feeding decisions. Luiz Ferraretto is collaborating on this research. This project aligns to Dairy Task Force 2.0 recommendation #26 (‘Increased collaboration in the UW System and with private industry’).