Farmers should take extra care when transitioning between different silage cuts this winter to ensure milk yield and fertility aren’t compromised.
Regular sampling of silage this winter is more important than ever because of the variability in clamps and bales, says Robin Hawkey, nutritionist at Mole Valley Farmers. A ration transition plan will help to safeguard animal performance, he adds.
“Farmers can’t simply switch from silage A to Silage B and expect they will maintain performance. It’s essential to know the exact quality of your silage and balance it correctly.
“Many farmers are running out of first cut silage and moving on to very different second and third cuts, as well as moving onto new season maize silage. This needs careful consideration when balancing the ration.”
Monitoring cow intakes is key, says Dr Hawkey.
“This will give an insight into what is going on, which is particularly important in autumn block calving herds where accurate nutrition is required for the service period to maintain the calving block. Any impact on nutrition will affect fertility, which could have long-term implications.”
Good herd management and accurate feeding will help improve herd performance. This can be achieved by continual monitoring of silage quality, ration and adaptation to meet herd requirements – especially during the early stages of lactation.
Cows should be regularly condition-scored with dung analysed for consistency. If individual cows are not looking right, Mole Valley Farmers will then delve into more detail to find the problem before it becomes a more widespread issue.
Dairy producers will benefit from monitoring first cuts diligently and using the higher value feed carefully through the winter to maximise milk from forage – offsetting the lower value of subsequent cuts.
Experts say it is of paramount importance to know what is in the clamp and how to feed it out accurately over winter. Only accurate testing will achieve this and regular tests will enable farmers to be more accurate and maximise milk from forage this winter.