What diet is best in late lactation dairy cows?
Teagasc recently highlighted the results of its research examining which diet is best for late lactation dairy cows.
Teagasc researchers investigated offering different supplementary feeds to grazing dairy cows in late lactation.
In an experiment conducted at Teagasc Moorepark from October to mid-November in 2013 spring-calved cows were randomly assigned to one of six treatments.
Results from four of the treatments are reported here, the additional two treatments involved lower grass allowances and high levels of supplementation.
The four treatments reported are:
(1) high grass allowance (17kg DM/day);
(2) low grass allowance (14kg DM/day)
(3) 14kg grass DM plus 3kg DM concentrates
(4) 14kg grass DM plus 3kg DM baled silage
The average DMD% of the baled silage was 70pc and cows were allowed approximately one hour after morning milking to consume their silage allocation.
The concentrate offered was a 16pc CP dairy ration offered in two equal feeds at morning and evening milking.
In terms of both milk yield and milk solids yield, allocating late lactation cows 14kg grass DM plus 3kg concentrates gave the best results, with the lower grass only allowance (14kg DM/day) producing the poorest results, and the two remaining treatments being intermediate.
Interestingly, cows on the higher grass allowance (17kg DM/day) did not graze out their daily grass allocation as well as the other groups, resulting in a higher post-grazing sward height.
The cows receiving 14kg grass DM plus 3kg concentrates achieved the highest total dry matter intake (DMI) of the four groups.
The results also highlight the response to feeding high-quality bales in the autumn.
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