Minimising body condition loss in early lactation cows through late summer feeding is critical if winter production and overall profitability are to be protected.
So says KW nutritionist Anna Sutcliffe adding that, according to figures from Trouw Nutrition, the energy needed to replace 0.5 BCS equates to a daily milk yield loss of 1.9 litres per cow for the first three months of winter.
“That’s worth around £9,000 for a 200-cow herd, even at 26ppl, and it’s more than three times the cost of the feed needed to maintain condition.”
Feeding just 2.25kg FW per cow per day of wheat-gluten moist feed through September and October would provide the same amount of total energy, but cost less than £2,500, says Dr Sutcliffe.
“Excess body condition loss also negatively affects fertility and has been shown to account for 50% of the lameness risk in early lactation, most likely due to thinning of the protective fat pad in the foot,” she adds.
“Keeping feed costs under control is vital, so focus on feeds that are high value and nutrient dense, and that encourage intakes, such as brewers’ grains, draff or one of the molasses-based liquid feeds.”