A kind Autumn and early Spring has seen many farmers off to a great start. Right now, however, many have experienced a slight check with the change in grass quality and weather conditions.
Speculating ‘why the dip’ can often be oversimplified, so why not eliminate the guess work with some blood samples and a pasture test and run this through a sophisticated ration review calculator?
Often Sugar levels, Crude Protein, ME and DM% can change unexpectantly, while basic mineral supplementation can often fall short or even be over supplied. Most herds are still climbing towards their ultimate peak with calving finished or close to it, so there are still opportunities to positively influence animal health and production.
With more time spent on milking, calf rearing and pasture management, the last of the calving cows can often be overlooked. It is not just lack of days before mating that puts these cows at risk of being late calving again, but these cows are frequently better conditioned due to more days being dry and less rationing of feed. This can predispose these better conditioned cows to mobilising more body weight than ideal post calving leading to fatty liver and subclinical ketosis. OAD milking should be considered for these girls along with a ‘Starter Dose’ and Vitamin B12.
‘Rumen Fill’ is paramount. ‘Rotation Planners’ can help with rationing feed but make sure that doesn’t lead to under feeding cows. If they are going to be short on grass, then supplements need to be used to fill the gap. Cows will adjust to under feeding so while you might think they are happy it does not mean they are fully fed or cannot eat more.
How full is she? Rounded like an apple or only pear shaped? The longer cow’s intakes are restricted, the lower the potential peak and you can never get back what you have missed to date. A good ‘rumen burn’ allows cows to eat more and convert feed more efficiently so if you are feeding meal, make sure you’re feeding the right mix and enough to balance the diet and convert more grass. Enabling your cow to eat more and convert her feed more efficiently will enable her to peak higher and longer and help make available more energy to better support her fertility needs.
Think about pre mowing ahead of cows to encourage rumen fill, maintain pasture quality, grow more grass and avoid over grazing and under feeding.
Pasture make up can change at any time so have hay/straw on hand for when extra effective fibre is needed. It is also a good idea to have a rumen buffer in the feed as a safety measure. Optimate is a very cost-effective product to include at a standard rate of 100 grams/cow/day.
If energy appears to be limiting despite your best efforts to feed them well and balance the diet, Bypass Fat can be a great option to consider. Typically, between 100grams and 200 grams/cow/day will normally pay for itself purely on production response, but there is real value in making more available energy for fertility and helping to limit body condition loss.
There are many things we need to be keeping an eye on at this time, but remember, ‘Tracker’ is a brilliant tool used in conjunction with on- farm observations. Don’t hesitate to ring and discuss in more detail what’s happening on farm with your GrainCorp Territory Manager or Technical Manager.
Technical Support Manager