Spring is around the corner!

March 30, 2018

Looking forward to the spring and summer we are hopefully due a drier one. Maximising the utility of grass is going to be key this year to maintain milk production and replenish silage stocks. Due to the changing milk contracts becoming more solids-based the importance of maintaining butterfat and protein levels will be key. 

To maintain milk solids, fibre is vital and a High Digestible Fibre (HDF) feed may be required, or consider buffer feeding to increase energy levels and maintain a higher fibre and starch intake.

Management of grass is key to achieve the maximum utilisation from cows at grass. With targets of a pre-grazing cover of 2600-3000kg DM/ha, then a residual of 1500 kg DM/ha on the removal of stock. For cows which are receiving a buffer feed, the field coverage doesn’t need to be as high (max 2600kg DM/ha) as they do not require the same level of grass to maintain production and to maintain the intake of the buffer feed. Intakes of fresh grass can vary dramatically from 70-100kg depending on the dry matter percentage and quality of grass, which can lead to large variability of milk production throughout the season. For example an intake of 90kg of fresh grass at 12 ME will give an estimated maintenance plus 22 litres. A rise or fall in 10kg fresh weight intake will lead to an estimated 4kg of milk gain or loss.

Maint +

11

11.5

12

18

86

82.2

78.8

20

91.6

87.2

83.3

22

96.6

92.7

88.3

24

102.2

97.8

92.8

In the table it shows the quantity of fresh grass based at 18% DM needed to meet requirements. To achieve intakes of above 100kg fresh are unrealistic and other alternatives may be needed to achieve these targets such as buffer feeding.

Measuring grass quality can be key to ensure the correct concentrate is fed and requirements are met. Through our recent purchase of NIR4 machines we are able to give instant analysis of fresh grass quality. This also will allow us to build up a profile of your grass land and ensure the correct farm specific nutritional advice is provided.

Author: Sam Hodgson

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