Grazing Options in 2013

What are our Grazing options in 2013?


Now that we can be planning to get cows out on grass what are our options to boost profits in 2013?


Here at John O’Connell feeds we have been working hard to formulate a new range of feed for cows at grass to maximise the cow’s potential milk yield.


The nutritional needs of cows on grass differ from the needs of cows in housing and on silage.

When we are using silage as the main source of feed we need to supplement the diet with energy, digestible protein, digestible fibre and a balanced mineral intake to fill the cow’s nutritional needs for calving and fertility.


With cows on good quality leafy grass their protein needs should be largely met by the grass. Teagasc maintain it is possible to get a high quality 3 to 4 year old cow to take in 18 to 20 kilos of Dry matter through grass alone but this is in ideal conditions and on ideal grass. They are totally correct using grass to boost the DM intake has huge positive effects on Milk Yield and Animal Health. Unfortunately in Ireland with our weather conditions this is all too often not viable using grass alone.


The key to maximising the yield of our cows at grass is in getting this DM intake up. How do we do this?

  1. We feed very high quality leafy grass.
  2. Do not force to graze very tight or restrict cow’s intake.


This is fine in theory but in practice is very difficult to achieve. If you are grazing very tight some cows will be hungry coming into the parlour and milk yield will drop. If you don’t graze tight then the grass will become stemmy for the next rotation!

In poor grazing conditions wet grass plays havoc with the digestive process leading to loose cows and a wasted intake.

At some stage we will have to graze grass that is not ideal or make up a shortfall of grass due to fertiliser restrictions.

Another problem is feeding high levels of Barley or Wheat at grass can cause cows to cut their DM intake through grass as Barley and Wheat have a high substitution rate. That is feeding large amounts of Barley in the diet through straight Barley or Crimped grain the cow will not be able to take in as much grass as she will be digesting the Barley.

At some stage we will be forcing cows to graze down grass to very low levels and this stemmy material will not be of much nutritional benefit to cows. It will be harder to digest and stay in the rumen for long periods as it is being broken down. Obviously while this material is in the rumen there is very little room for anything else such as high quality leafy grass.


The Key is Boosting the dry matter intake!!


Here at John O’Connell Feeds we are well aware of these problems and have come up with several options for our customers to solve these problems and maximise returns from the cow.

We have formulated some new feeds that are high in good quality digestible fibre to help the cow intake more and increase milk yield for economical returns.


Dairy Maize2Graze nut


This is a new product specially formulated for 2013,

It is designed for high yielding cows on good quality grass and in good grazing conditions. It contains 30% Maize and a high level of digestible fibre to boost dry matter intake from raw materials such as Maize, Beet pulp, Soya Hulls, Rapeseed, Barley etc. With the protein coming from Grass in the diet this feed has been formulated at 14% protein to boost the milk yield through helping to increase the Dry Matter intake.


Dairy MaxGrass nut


This is a slightly more economical option to achieve a similar desired Dry Matter intake boost in the cow’s diet. Containing raw materials that are high in Digestible fibre feeding a relatively small quantity of this will boost the DM intake and give a higher milk yield at a low cost. It contains Beet pulp, Soya Hulls, Barley etc.




Feeding your cows modest levels of our high digestible fibre feed should result in higher DM intakes, higher milk yields, healthier cows through balanced mineral intake and easier milking.

Written by