As we move into February calving on most dairy farms is underway. The calving period is on many farms the busiest time of the year. With this heavy workload, it is vitally important that YOU do not lose sight of the importance of feeding the early lactation cow correctly. There is a strong correlation between peak milk yield and total lactation yield.

Peak yield typically occurs 6-8 weeks post calving; however peak feed intake does not occur until c. 12 weeks post calving. This leaves the cow with an unavoidable energy imbalance for a number of weeks. This period of negative energy balance may lead to a number of problems including excessive loss of cow body condition, poor submission rates and reduced pregnancy rates, etc.

Minimising weight loss at this critical time and hitting a strong peak milk yield will largely determine the success of the total lactation for your cows & for YOU for the year. If YOU manage to maintain a healthy cow and optimise her feed intake during the first c. 12 weeks of early lactation you have ‘set yourself up’ for the year. Every 1 kilo per cow increase in peak milk yield results in c. 200 – 225 kilos (45-50 gallons) of an increase in the total lactation. That’s an extra c. €3,375 for a 50 cow herd (assuming a milk price of €0.30/litre)!!!cows on silage web

Most dairy farmers look to get cows out to grass as early as possible. We recommend, if/where possible to keep cows inside full-time for minimum 10 days after calving; and slowly and carefully building up the concentrate feeding level.

A phased introduction of grass into the diet is advisable and works best. A phased and gradual transition to grass is the key. You cannot afford to have sudden changes to the cow’s diet during these critical weeks. Dietary changes must be introduced gradually and successfully managing this transition from the ‘indoor’ to the ‘outdoor’ diet will help to minimise problems/issues which may arise, including Sub-Acute Ruminal Acidosis (SARA). This occurs where the pH in the rumen drops (ie. becomes acidic) for a few hours each day, leading to cows having mild diarrhoea, lowered dry matter intakes and laminitis.

Our carefully formulated Coarse Dairy Rations contain consistent levels of energy (starch & sugars), quality proteins and digestible fibres, providing the slow release of energy and a stable rumen environment. These energy-dense feeds may be fed in the parlour or as part of a total mixed ration (TMR). We have dairy feeds from 16% to 22% crude protein as part of our standard range. Our Hi-Energy Dairy 18% or Milk Max Dairy 20% are our two top sellers at this time of the year.

Our high performance rations include, a top specification Dairy Mineral meeting the major and trace element requirements of your cows as well as their vitamin demands. Cal-Mag is included as an aid in the prevention of grass tetany.

We have specifically designed a number of coarse dairy rations for feeding in the parlour. Ask about our Parlour Supreme 18 and Parlour Supreme 20 coarse feeds. 

If you are seeking a ration which will help to get YOUR cows back into positive energy balance sooner after calving, then you need look no further.

In addition to our coarse rations we promote a comprehensive range of high quality Dairy Nuts designed to drive milk production and to promote cow health and fertility. Our higher specification nuts contain full fat soya – a high energy and high quality protein ingredient. Proven digestive enhancers (eg. Acid-Buf and Actisaf yeast) are combined with ‘protected’ minerals in our top nuts to best meet the demands of your herd. Our leading sellers are our Milk Max 18%, our Milk Elite 19% and our Milk Supreme 20%.

We in Drummonds understand that no two farms are the same. We strongly encourage you to contact your local Drummonds Technical Sales Adviser who will aim to supply you with the feed – in coarse or in nut form – which will best meet the requirements of your herd, and best supplement the forage/s you have available on YOUR farm.

Article Written by: Shaun Smith, Technical Sales Advisor (Drummonds Mullingar)
Tel: 044-9362022 Mob: 086-1450885