Changes in pasture quantity and quality over the summer months can lead to the age-old question; To dry off or not to dry off? There are several factors to consider when answering this question. Vanessa Lilly, Technical Sales Representative for SealesWinslow, highlights the key considerations for body condition score (BCS), milk production and supporting the bottom line.
To ensure the herd are at the right BCS come calving, start managing it in summer and the end of lactation.
“Cows use energy more efficiently for weight gain when they are lactating than when they are dry,” Vanessa explains.
A dry cow requires 72 megajoules of metabolisable energy (MJME) to gain one kilogram (kg) of live weight (LW) while milking cows require only 50 MJME1. In a nutshell, if there is still weight to gain, it’s more effective to keep milking. However, this can be easier said than done in the summer dry.
To keep the milk tap on, assess how much feed is needed and establish its nutrient content.
“Dry matter (DM) and crude protein are key drivers in milk production.”
Having enough feed available to meet demand is the first point of call. In late lactation, a cow requires approximately three percent of her body weight in DM, and a minimum of 14 percent crude protein. For example, a 450kg cow requires about 13.5kgDM/day.
Summer pasture can range regionally and seasonally.
“When in doubt, test the feed on hand,” Vanessa says.
Feed tests give a clear idea of availability. Silage can range in protein content depending on when it was cut and how it was stored. Unfortunately, summer grass often struggles to provide the required leafy green and protein. And with high fibre, it can restrict the amount cows can eat. Testing what is available helps identify what might be missing.
Supplementary feed is a great way to provide additional concentrated DM that’s high in energy and protein and complements the feed on hand. However, choosing the right feed to balance the cow’s diet to maintain milk production, without impacting BCS, can be challenging.
SealesWinslow offer a range of bulk dairy meal options consisting of varying protein levels and designed specifically to aid in finishing off the season with maintaining milk. A fully pelletised product, such as Maxi Pro, is ideal for providing the protein needed to maintain production, Vanessa says.
“It’s the soya bean meal within MaxiPro that boosts the protein to a highly available 20 percent crude protein.”
For more information, visit www.sealeswinslow.co.nz, talk to your local Technical Sales Rep, or visit your Fonterra Farm Source.
1 DairyNZ 2017
Article supplied by SealesWinslow.