Dairy advice: Use concentrates to boost body condition scores
Published 11/11/2016 | 15:00
Improved weather has enabled farmers to keep cows out by day and by night on drier ground. Grazing conditions have been excellent. However, the feed value of grazed grass has been over-estimated for cows on many farms.
Supplementation with concentrates is justified where body condition scores (BCS) are below target in preparation for the upcoming dry cow period. Why dry cows off early when there is an opportunity to harvest milk with high solids at up to 35 cents per litre?
Some farmers will dry cows off early with the presumption that they will gain BCS. Previous experience has shown that these cows are often neglected in terms of silage and grass quality. In addition, either supplemental concentrates or minerals are fed to requirement.
There is currently a demand by processors for fresh milk. Take advantage of the increased milk price and potential profit from producing this late lactation milk with grazed grass as a primary ingredient.
Many farmers look forward to ceasing milk production in early December with a resumption in late January with fresh calvers. It is important that you start preparing now for management practices integral to optimisation of the dry cow period.
In the first instance, you should have a pregnancy scan report which gives you the due dry off and calving dates. You need to inspect your cows now to get an accurate assessment of cows with poor locomotion and BCS.
Allow a 12-week dry-cow period for first lactation cows plus cows with poor locomotion and BCS. You need to group these cows so that you can ensure they get the attention required to achieve the ideal health status for the final eight weeks of pregnancy. This situation arises now as most farmers will not be in a position to allocate these cows the attention required in lactation.
A range of therapies at dry off include: