Individual attention key to improved milk yields
Static performance of high-yielding cows in ADAS Bridgets Elite herd is challenging researchers. Jessica Buss found out how they plan to increase yields at a sponsors open day
INDIVIDUAL cow attention could be the key to increasing yields over 12,000 litres and boosting the milk fat % of high performing dairy cows.
Thats the view of ADAS Bridgets centre manager Bridget Drew who told open day visitors that yields of cows managed to maximise performance at the Hampshire centre have remained static over the last year at 12,000 litres.
Individual attention would help gain a better understanding of high yielders management needs and so increase yields and fat %, which has always been low at 3.36%.
Although the 60 cows in the Elite herd are fed and penned separately from the other 600 cows at the centre they are milked and fed by the same team of herdsmen.
The need for extra care was highlighted last winter when a few Elite dry cows that were managed with dry cows from the main herd suffered milk fever. Pre-calving cows are now housed and managed separately, and fed a new ration.
This currently includes, on a DM basis, 2.9kg maize silage, 0.7kg lucerne silage, 1kg wheat, 0.3kg maize meal, 0.4kg sugar beet feed, 0.9kg soya, 0.2kg molasses, 0.2kg SoyPass, minerals, vitamins and ad-lib straw.
The new regime has proved to be highly successful with summer calvers suffering no metabolic difficulties, says Dr Drew.
She now plans to provide new accommodation and specific facilities and staff for Elite cows and their youngstock. Improving youngstock management should ensure Elite heifers reach target weight at calving which will also help increase yields.
"Heifer lactations have varied during the study and weight at calving has been shown to have a direct effect on lactation performance, with lighter heifers yielding less."
Cows in the 12,000-litre Elite herd need individual attention to increase yields, says Bridget Drew.
Elite herd performance
• Average PIN £63.
• Milk yield 12008kg.
• Fat yield 406kg (3.36%).
• Protein yield 384kg (3.18%).
• Cell count 124,000/ml.