HOW has your dairy cow feeding worked out so far this winter? Have your feed groups performed as you expected? Have you been moving cows between groups as your farm protocols dictate? Are cows that moved to the late lactation group getting an increased proportion of their concentrates at milking? A review of feeding can refocus your objectives.
Michael Garvey, CAFRE Dairy Development Adviser, said: “Cows
fed with a wagon should be grouped for feeding into early and late lactation groups and the amount of blend fed per cow in the wagon should be set to suit the lowest yielding cows in each group.
“For a wagon mix each kilo of blend adds approximately two litres of milk to the production from the silage (M+ figure) giving a combined base production M+ for the ration. With good silage, eight kilos of concentrates in the wagon supports a base production of 27 kilos in the early lactation group. Cows yielding 28 kilos of milk or more require to be topped up with additional concentrate,” he added.
Michael said cows should be moved between the groups as their yield declines.
“Cows more than 150 days in milk should be moved to the late lactation group. At this stage they may receive a greater proportion of their concentrate in the parlour than previously but to maintain feed efficiency it is important that cows in late lactation are not over fed.”
“The late lactation group do not always require blend in the wagon if parlour feeding is available. A feed rate of 0.45 kilos of concentrate per kilo of additional required milk is satisfactory. Good silage and up to 8kg daily of parlour feeding allows cows with yields of 27 kilos of milk to be managed satisfactorily without concentrate in the wagon.
“Earlier this winter a BDG video conference looked at feeding in a herd divided into a group of highest yielding cows, on average 126 days calved and averaging 33 kilos of milk. Their base ration was made up of mixed silages and 8kg of blend. It was formulated to the lowest yielding cow in the group, ensuring that cows were not overfed,” he continued.
“Cows were then topped up in the parlour above 28 kilos milk. The average daily parlour feeding was five kilos per cow.
“The second group of cows were longer calved and aver-aging 20 kilos milk.
“Their base ration was similar but this time only 3kg of blend. Cows yielding more than 13 kilos milk received parlour top up. The average daily parlour feeding was 3½ kilos per cow.
“A similar review of your feeding can refocus your objectives. Monthly use of a margin over concentrate programme can help monitor herd performance and ensure milk from forage is being optimised within your herd,” he concluded.