2013-03-13 xml
Supplementary Feeding Vital to Protect Milk Production this Spring

Maintaining cow intakes and diet quality during the next few weeks when forages and grass are in short supply will be essential to protect milk production and constituents, according to BOCM PAULS, the UK’s leading manufacturer of livestock feeds.

“After a long, difficult winter we are currently in very difficult period for many dairy producers. Clamp stocks are generally low, cows have yet to be turned out and grass growth remains slow,” emphasises Nick Berni, Ruminant Products Manager.

Dairy Cows

“Dairy cows are particularly sensitive to variations in diet and their feed intake must be consistent to maintain milk yield and quality. Producers should work closely with their nutritional advisers and calculate how to maintain consistent nutritional inputs during this transitional period, either by using blends, compounds or moist co-products to extend available forages or provide a replacement.

“The priority for producers is to carefully assess available forage stocks, forecast likely requirements based on cow numbers and estimate the number of productive days before turnout. This will enable them to anticipate any shortfall in forage availability at the earliest possible stage and secure supplies of supplementary feeds in good time, because demand remains strong and availability is limited.

“Co-products are consistent in quality and analysis, so they offer an excellent way to boost the volume, quality, nutritional value and palatability of forages. In addition to traditional products such as brewers’ grains, distillers’ malt draff or mash filter grains we offer a wide range of manufactured co-products to maximise performance, which work best as part of a planned programme.

“The latest moist feed blends, such as SelcoPlus, AmyPlus and SuperPlus, are particularly valuable, being of excellent nutritional quality and very competitively-priced. Moist feed blends are high in energy and crude protein, highly-palatable and provide a balanced base to the diet, supporting milk yields. They can form part of a ration for all types of stock, have a distinctive, fresh aroma to encourage high intakes and once ensiled can be stored for several months.

“Grass is traditionally low in trace elements and to maintain production and quality at turnout some element of buffer feeding will therefore be required, either by supplementing diets with blends at grass or compounds in the parlour.

“Care will be needed when incorporating traditional blends into the diet because grass is much higher in protein and sugar than forages, yet significantly lower in fibre. High protein causes problems, because the cow has to convert it into urea which is excreted, but this takes energy. The higher the protein, the more energy is required. With very high-protein grass this can be equivalent to up to three litres of milk.

“Fibre is not usually a problem when feeding grass silage because it is much higher in fibre than grass. However, fresh grass is low in fibre and needs to be balanced carefully to maintain butterfat production. This can be achieved by feeding a low-protein, high-fibre blend.

“Looking ahead, BOCM PAULS can tailor-make blends for summer utilising cost-effective and exclusive raw materials. We can also add specific micro ingredients such as Levucell to maintain rumen health during a period in which the cow is at risk of acidosis from eating high levels of young, leafy, low-fibre, high-sugar grass.”

BOCM Pauls

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