Maximise Dairy Cow Performance With Fane Valley Feeds This Winter
13th October 2016

The past year will be remembered as one of the most difficult years on record for many dairy farmers.  With dairy markets now slowly recovering and farm gate milk prices starting to improve it will be important to focus on maximising efficient milk production this winter by ensuring optimum nutrition and management of the dairy herd.

Summer 2016 has been a challenging year on many farms across Northern Ireland for the production of high quality grass silages. Grass silages produced this summer and analysed by the Fane Valley Feeds Technical Team indicate that a huge variation exists between silages. The majority of 1st cuts are analysing drier and higher in energy but with lower protein and sugars than most years. Difficult weather conditions during 2nd and 3rd cut harvesting have produced silages of lower quality with dry matter and energy levels below expectation.

With many cows now housed full time and autumn calving underway it is essential to focus on the nutritional requirements of your herd to ensure balanced diets are fed to optimise cow performance and efficiency to ensure cost effective milk production this winter.  Targeting the energy and protein requirements to meet individual cow requirements will be essential to maintain body condition and to reduce the negative energy balance to maximise milk production, milk composition, cow health and fertility.  

Every silage being fed on farm requires a nutrient analysis which is the starting point in diet formulation. Only then can a robust feed-plan be implemented to ensure that each cow receives the required concentrate input to match milk production.
 
Reducing feed rates in response to lower milk prices has already been shown to impact on performance including loss of body condition, reduced milk yield, reductions in milk quality and poor fertility. In many herds, the body condition of staler cows is already lower than required due to restricted concentrate inputs during the past season. These cows require additional concentrate feeding prior to drying off to minimise the impact of lower body condition at calving and in the next lactation.

Energy and protein requirements for each cow must be met. Under-feeding freshly calved or higher yielding herds will have serious repercussions in later lactation and the costs associated will outweigh any previous savings and any advantage from improved farm gate milk prices will be lost. Similarly, over-feeding stale, late lactation cows unless additional body condition is required, is not financially sustainable.

At Fane Valley Feeds our winter compound feed range has been designed specifically to match the range of silage qualities on farm this year. Our range will help to promote rumen performance and health while increasing energy intake and forage intakes. All diets are formulated with high quality raw materials including maize, wheat and soya bean.

The Key Factors For Maximising Performance This Winter:
1. Analyse forage for nutritional assessment, formulate diets according to the cow’s requirements and feed to yield.
2. Regularly assess individual milk yields and update concentrate feed allocations.
3. Target improving reproductive performance.

If you would like to know more about the Fane Valley Feeds range or require nutritional advise please contact your local Fane Valley Feeds Ruminant Sales Specialist or Dr Hazel Gilmore on 077149 50584, or Matthew Armstrong on 077149 50585 for further information.