26 May 1995

Buffer feeding restrictions urged

RESTRICT buffer feeding to an hour after each milking, and only buffer cows yielding over 18 litres, advises Arnoud Hameleers of the Scottish Agricultural Colleges Crichton Royal Farm, Dumfries.

He advises producers to buffer feed fresh-calved cows only if the grass sward is below the target grazing height of 7-8cm in early season and 9-10cm in late season.

"Late lactation cows only respond to buffer feeding if there is no grass available," he says.

The feed should be offered after milking only. When it is available before milking cows may not eat their concentrate in the parlour, he warns. Plenty of water is also necessary to encourage good intakes.

Best responses, in three years of trials at Crichton Royal Farm, were obtained from buffer feeds of 40-50% dry matter. Feed should not be too high quality or offered in the grazing field, as cows may eat buffer in preference to grass.