WITH AN ever-increasing need for improved efficiency, there is a need to increase milk output, without compromising health and fertility. But that can only be achieved with a team approach, by producer, vet and nutritionist.

That is the view of Paragon Vet Group vet David Black, who reckons declining fertility of the UK dairy herd is a multi-factorial problem. But nutrition has a large part to play to halt or reverse this decline.

“The emphasis must be on energy: protein ratios as well as macro and micro-elements, such as magnesium, copper, selenium and iodine.” Being such a strong believer in mineral management, Mr Black also showed concern over grass potassium content. “With values ranging from 1.7% to 4% in some of these single species grasses, potassium is driving milk fever occurrences.

“With this in mind, I prefer to see whole-crop silage and straw included in dry cow diets rather than grass silage. Providing adequate scratchy fibre in the form of straw will also help prevent displaced abomasums.”

Offering magnesium chloride in cows’ drinking water has also helped his clients reduce milk fevers.