As we approach autumn time, grass quality and grass growth will begin to decline and so it is important that the diet is carefully and correctly matched to the days in milk of each specific cow – easily achieved with feed to yield systems in the milking parlour.
We are fast approaching the transition from summer to autumn and farmers will need to manage their feeding strategies so as not to compromise on productivity. As the quality of grazed grass reduces; as the proportion of leaf to stem changes, this ultimately leads to lower protein content.
Due to this change in grass quality, it is important that the diet of the spring calved cows is adjusted to produce high quality milk with elevated milk solids.
The main aim is to reduce the degree of mobilisation of body tissue and hence minimise any body condition loss at this stage of lactation. It will be important to evaluate the body condition and feed accordingly until a body condition score of 3 is applicable prior to the drying off stage.
I already stand witness to buffer feeding diets across Irish farms, in particular to dairy farms that are highly stocked and where grass covers have dropped. At the moment maize silage seems to be most popular choice this year among dairy farmers to boost milk yield, together with a balance of protein and energy via concentrates or specifically tailored rations. As I eluded too earlier intakes are vital here and it is important to monitor intake to achieve an overall daily intake of 18-20 kg per day with overall protein of 14-15% in the diet. A wide range of dairy supplements can be used in a buffer diet to include soya meal, rapeseed, maize gluten, maize distillers, beet pulp, soya hulls, together with the option of cubes or coarse rations for each specific protein range (14%-28%)
The key point is to ensure a balanced diet is offered to dairy cows, achieving a high milk output but ensuring the health and metabolic profile is not compromised. This requires specific feeding strategies adopted from the transition from summer to autumn.
It is always advisable to consult with a qualified nutritionist when it comes to adjusting or changing the diet of any stock so as not to compromise overall health and performance.
For further information or advice please do not hesitate to contact any member of the Connolly’s RED MILLS ruminant team.
- Buffer feeding