Tips on managing winter and early spring cow rations

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Tips on managing winter and early spring cow rations

This month we want to focus on strategies that might help you have an easier and more profitable winter and early spring than might otherwise be the case. This year just like last year we have had an early Autumn break and attractive milk prices which sets us up for a profitable season. To fully take advantage of these conditions requires some focus on how you feed your cows.

The graph below is an image downloaded from “pastures from space”. The image tracks 15 years of pasture growth it clearly shows that growth rates start to improve in August. The extra pasture growth leads the cows ration to change from largely high fibre, moderate protein hay and silage to high protein and low fibre pastures.

If this change of diet is not managed carefully the cows can be exposed to sore feet and become twitchy from mild grass tetany. They can get bloat, nitrate poisoning, acidosis and/or toxicity caused by moulds and fungi in waterlogged pastures. Often there can be two or three challenges happening at the same time making it difficult to diagnose the problem. In most situations the cows are more likely to show mild symptoms (sub-clinical) rather than severe symptoms (clinical).

The easiest way to think about sub-clinical disease is to imagine working with a headache. Those around you cannot tell that you are a sick, but you know that you might be performing at 10-20% below what you are capable of. Given current milk prices, an underperforming cow that can produce 2.0 kg of milk solids might be losing $1.40 per day in milk income if she is 10% off her best.

The good news is all the potential problems associated with a lack of fibre and too much protein in the diet can be managed either by adjusting what is in the silo and/or how you manage grazing your pastures’. There are products that are high in magnesium that improve cow temperament, that can neutralize an acidic rumen, or detoxify “rancid” pastures. Bloat can be controlled; soft hooves can be hardened, and pasture nitrates counteracted.

Your Reids representative can help you reduce all the problems discussed above. Just give us a call and let us know. Advice is free.

It is cheaper to include the right additives compared to the cost of putting up with problems. You deserve a profitable season. Please let us help you with that.

Source: Pastures from Space >

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