Milk yield, fertility and cow welfare could all be in jeopardy if early lactation cows are fed insufficient rumen-protected fats.


Early lactation cows cannot be sustained by energy from rumen-fermented feedstuffs alone and it is a failure by many dairy units to supply additional energy in the form of rumen-protected fats, according to KW nutritionist Mark Scott.

Regardless of the dry cow feeding system used, early lactation energy demand accelerates far more rapidly than appetite, according to Mr Scott. “Even modest post-calving yields will quickly outstrip the ability of the rumen to supply energy, typically requiring 200-500g/cow/day of a rumen-protected fat to prevent excessive body condition loss which is so damaging to cow performance.

Although Mr Scott said a negative energy balance couldn’t be avoided, he said it could and should be minimised. “Even without the welfare implications, the payback in terms of milk yield, fertility and cow longevity more than outweighs the cost.”