Dairy CowThe next 3 months mark an influential period on grass availability and the condition cows calve down in next spring. Scanning results are quite mixed this year and many farmers are disappointed, considering it has been a great year for grass growth, this could have a slight part to play in the cause however. Strong grass growth meant cows were often grazing lower quality swards and concentrates were also cut back to the minimum in order to get through the flush of grass.

Grazing conditions deteriorated quite rapidly in August from the near drought conditions in July. In other parts of the country where higher levels of rainfall were experienced, cows had to be housed temporarily. Many farmers have reported sharp reductions in milk yield over the last number of weeks and this is mainly due to the weather, with grass dry matters dropping to as low as 13%, leading to poor intakes.

There is a danger of cow body condition deteriorating over the next while, as a consequence of poor weather and lower energy autumn grass. This must not be tolerated as the next three months are the most suitable timeframe to build body condition on your typical spring calving cow. The dry period is too late and must not be relied upon. Feeding 3-4 kg of a low protein, high energy, cereal based ration will more than pay for itself in extra milk production and will crucially, help cows to hold and build flesh reserves.