Minimise cow flow issues by building effective roadways
The milk quota situation has forced some dairy farmers to try things they have never done before -- but, happily, in many cases, they have succeeded.
This autumn zero-concentrate feeding regime has become a common practice on several farms in an attempt to reduce supply or to retain a small margin on the marginal milk litres supplied in an over-quota position.
Where zero-concentrate feeding is being practised, be sure to consider magnesium supplementation, as grass tetany can become an issue. Drying off cows relative to body condition must also be implemented to ensure that cows have adequate time and feed to gain weight and calve down at a 3.25 score.
Getting the cows in for milking has become a slow and long-winded job for many farmers. Cows have become rather lethargic and lack the urge to come into the parlour for milking. This lack of eagerness is a common phenomenon at this time of year, and it has often encouraged increased concentrate feeding in the parlour in recent years.
Pressure to avoid using concentrates has seen farmers start questioning their farm infrastructure to aid cow flow, especially into the parlour. Backing gates on the collecting yard is a prime example.
When the milk price is good and tax bills are considered, farmers rightly increase their spend on infrastructure maintenance and upgrades, or on soil health with soil testing, lime and fertiliser dressings. Taking these actions now allows such costs to be deferred in years when the milk price is low.
Regarding roadways, repair, maintenance or even entirely new sections of roadway all merit consideration. Improvement in either roadway surface, width, direction or even layout can have marked impacts on both the cost of lameness but also time spent bringing cows in for milking due to cow flow.