Silage surplus if grasss good
MILKING cows managed on high quality grass giving 30 litres or less should not need buffer feeding.
So says south-west ADAS dairy consultant Richard Eaton. But on wet days, when cows dont eat as much dry matter, and when grass is in short supply, some buffer feed such as maize silage may be benefical to protect milk yield, he adds.
"In ideal conditions cows can eat up to 19kg dry matter of grass which will provide for maintenance and 30 litres of milk. Last year cows at ADAS Bridgets averaged 29 litres over 10 weeks, from April to June, without supplements."
But achieving this level of grass intake requires a dense sward above 12cm (5in). This suggests a rotational grazing system is needed.
When that amount of grass isnt available, cows giving 20-30 litres will need some concentrates to supplement grass. Mr Eaton advises offering high starch or sugar concentrates to help improve rumen efficiency and allow the rumen to capture more of the protein in grass. He suggests feeding to a maximum of 5kg, which can be offered economically using cereals alone at about £75/t, he says. Cows giving below 20 litres should not be offered any supplements. *