Winter protein supplements could be needed

28 September 2001

Winter protein supplements could be needed

LOW grass silage yields and bumper maize crops may force producers to reconsider protein and fibre levels in this winters milking cow rations.

High maize yields are compensating for the low first cut grass silage yields on many farms, according to Devon-based ADAS consultant Tim Manhire. "This will push up the maize content of winter rations, so extra protein supplements will be needed this winter."

The balance between fibre and starch also needs to be considered, says Edward Lott of ADAS. "Aim for at least 35-37% fibre in the ration when formulating diets to maintain rumen function and prevent milk fat from falling."

Dairy rations should contain pieces of forage at least 7-10cm (3-4in) long to optimise rumen function. "To achieve this in high maize diets, small amounts of fibrous forages, such as straw or hay, need to be added to rations."

Also consider increasing the chop length of maize silage when planning to feed high maize diets. But this will slow down maize contractors and more grains may remain intact which will not be digested by the cow.

Other fibrous feeds, such as citrus pulp and sugarbeet, can also be used to correct the dietary balance between fibre and starch, adds Mr Lott. &#42

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