Failing to invest in autumn feeding could cut winter production

Failing to adequately support yield and body condition as grass intakes drop could cut yields by 1.9 litres/cow for the first three months of winter and cost a 200 cow herd £6,259, even at 18ppl, warns KW senior nutritionist Mark Scott.

“That’s the potential cost of regaining 0.5 BCS (body condition score) lost whilst grazing as cows prioritise replenishing lost condition once fully housed,” he explains. “Yet the alternative – providing the additional energy needed for those cows to retain that condition – can cost as little as £2,000, based on two months feeding 2.25kg FW/cow/day of Traffordgold wheat-gluten moist feed.”

As grass dry matter intake (DMI) drops with falling daylight hours, Mr Scott recommends splitting the herd so cows over 150 days in milk work harder to utilise available grass and dry off at no more than BCS 3.0.

“Boost buffer feed intake for earlier lactation cows by including a moist feed or a liquid feed like Molale, Rouxminate or Lactoboost, and housing overnight if necessary,” he continues. “Support good rumen function with digestible fibre from sugar beet feed, soya hulls or British wheat distillers’ feed, and by replacing rolled cereals with Sodawheat. For best value, switch from soyabean meal to ProtoTec heat-treated rapemeal, and consider processed bread and the confectionery blends like SugaRich Dairy for any extra starch needed.”

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