After a bad week, stretching the first rotation till mid-April is still correct
Last week was a tough one out on dairy farms. Low dry matter, grass ground cutting up, silage stocks all but wiped out and all the time farmers' morale on the floor.
The lift in milk prices with some processors was the one piece of good news in an otherwise depressing week. We are now into the first week in April; cow intake is reaching its peak and very soon cows will reach their peak milk supply.
Last year, cows did not peak at all, and there is a grave danger of the same thing happening again. Achieving a decent peak yield is important because of its effect on total lactation yield.
Cow performance is currently being affected due to a number of factors. The chief problem is the lack of grass in the paddocks and the fact that silage is still in the diet. Silage is still needed in the diet, simply because there is not enough grass on the milking block. Many farmers are just out of silage or have very little left in the pit.
So where to from here for farmers? At this stage it's very difficult to give advice, since our problems will not be sorted until air temperatures return to their normal 12-14°C and the wind blows from the south.
I have mentioned already that April is a critical month on dairy farms. It's an important month from a cow nutrition point of view. A cow's milk yield generally peaks at 70 days after calving. The majority of our herds will peak at 25l (5.5gals). If we manage to achieve that at 3.6pc fat and 3.30pc protein then the cows will have produced 1.77kg of milk solids.
Achieving a decent peak yield is important as it will affect total lactation yield. Now, I know from many of you that cow production/ha is the driver. And, certainly, if you are at an overall stocking rate of 2.8lu/ha, then kilogrammes of milk solids/ha is the driver.