Planning rationing to make savings
CORRECT feeding during the dry period and immediately after calving is cost-effective, according to David Wilde, ruminant technical manager with Frank Wright.
Speaking at a Shropshire dairy conference, Mr Wright said well-planned rationing could optimise cow performance and fertility.
A negative energy balance affected pre-calving follicle development, and the eventual quality of eggs available for fertilising 80-100 days into lactation.
Feeding 100g of propylene glycol/cow/day boosted energy status by raising levels of glucose, lifted essential hormone levels, and increased the number of viable follicles and eggs, he said.
Although supplementation over seven weeks cost about £10/cow, the return on the investment was huge.
Research indicated that each silent heat avoided saved £63. Delayed ovulation cost £3/day, and extra services £20 to £30 a time.
If infertility caused a cow to be culled, the cost was £406.
It was vital to keep cows fit, not fat, during the dry period and to ensure they had adequate energy during the transition weeks before calving, said Mr Wilde.
Feeding anionic salts, on top of forage or through a mixer wagon, to achieve the correct dietary cation/anion balance was important immediately before calving. It allowed higher calcium intake, optimised milk yield in early lactation, and reduced the risk of milk fever.
An imbalance raised urine pH and this could be detected using indicator strips. *