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Making Maximum Margins from Grass
The days lengthen. . . and so does the grass! Watching cows contentedly graze is an appealing image from a distance . . . but seen through nutritional eyes, the picture is very different. Grazed grass does present many nutritional challenges, and for many herds keeping milk yields up at grass, without compromising butterfat or fertility, is a real problem.
Many herds these days are averaging over 8,000 litres per cow, which at this time of year some cows will be producing in excess of 40 litres per day. But as the grass grows, concentrate levels for high yielding cows are often reduced significantly. This results in an energy gap between what the cow requires to sustain yields, and what the grass provides. How much depends on how good the grass is, and the quality varies on a day to day basis as well as throughout the season.
BOCM PAULS has been monitoring grass quality throughout the country for several years through our Checkline Grazing Bureau. From that we can clearly divide the grazing season into two main periods – early and late season:
Early season grass is: high in energy,
very low in fibre, high in crude protein (up to 30%), high in sugar.
Later in the season energy, protein, fibre and sugar levels all decline.
The marked difference between the two types of grass led us to develop specific, complementary diets for feeding throughout the season. Margin Benefit from TDF / HFC System
Average Extra Yield / Cow / Day (litres) 1.0
Days on Trial 84
Total Extra Milk (litres) 84
Increased Margin / Cow (at 23.0ppl) £19.32
Extra Margin Benefit in 3 months £2898
(based on 150 cows)
From the SAC work we then further developed a new regime for summer feeding, called the TDF and HFC 'Fermentable Energy Balance' approach.
TDF and HFC 'Fermentable Energy Balance'
TDF (Total Digestible Fibre) Feeds:
Contains: Slowly fermentable energy sources
Matches: Early season grass
Achieves: Maximum grass intake
Works by: Spring grass is very quickly fermented by the cow, which can upset the rumen and reduce grass intake and milk yield. TDF keeps the rumen healthy to allow maximum grass intake, which will increase overall energy intake giving higher milk yields throughout the early grazing period.
Results: Grass intakes increased by 0.6kg dry matter; milk from grass increased by an average of 0.8 litres per cow per day
HFC (High Fermentable Carbohydrate):
Contains: More rapidly fermentable energy sources
Matches: Mid to late season grass.
Achieves: Maximum grass utilisation
Works by: As grass quality declines in mid to late season HFC diets supply a higher level of energy from more rapidly fermentable sources. Grass protein levels also decline, therefore HFC crude protein levels are increased with more rumen degradable protein available.
Results: Grass intakes increased by 0.9 kg dry matter; milk from grass increased by an average of 1.2 litres per cow per day.
Using the Two Stage diet process WILL give you extra milk, and ensure you use the grass at your disposal most effectively. Given the current milk price and the need for profit improvement, can you afford not to make the most of this year's grass?
Ask your BOCM PAULS Account Manager for more information.
The PROTEK PLUS story
Because spring grass is relatively high in rumen degradable protein – up to 30% in some cases - this can lead to elevated blood urea levels, which has a negative impact on fertility. The new diets therefore contain Protek Plus. This works by grabbing the excess protein and converting it into useable protein to support higher milk yields. Both rumen and blood ammonia levels reduce, negating the potentially harmful effects of the protein on the animals. Trial results have shown this to produce an extra 2 litres per cow per day, worth an additional £2,139 per month for a 150 cow herd, based on 23ppl.
The Levucell Titan story
After a winter eating preserved forages, the arrival of grass in the diet results in huge changes to the cow's rumen environment. It's little wonder that we may get a slight decline in milk quality and production during the transition! In addition to the Fermentable Energy Balance approach and Protek Plus we have also incorporated Levucell Titan in some diets. Levucell Titan is a unique encapsulated, ruminant specific live yeast that assists the rumen flora to adapt to the change of forage type and improve milk output. Levucell assists with reducing the risks of sub clinical acidosis when cows are consuming huge quantities of high sugar grass.