Here at Crecora Mills we value our customers and see it as our job to help and inform them as best we can. With this in mind we ran another of our Dairy seminars in Adare recently.
Des Cronin, who is a well known and respected head nutritionist at Inform Nutrition in Co Cork was the guest speaker. He has a lot of advice from his 25 years experience in productive ruminant animal nutrition both in Ireland and worldwide.
We discussed the changing markets and the abolition of Dairy Milk Quotas in 2015. The general feeling among the attendees was that most farmers were well over quota till April and were worried about penalties and a low milk price and consequently were considering restricting feed intake.
Des Cronin made a very valid point that “the only thing worse than low milk price was low milk volume”. And that if we did not look after the feeding regime of our dairy cows in the months before and after calving that we will miss out on a serious volume of high solid milk in the later half of the year. He quoted numerous research both here in Ireland, in the Uk, France and the U.S. that shows that a cow being fed to her intake potential in the 8 weeks after calving will outperform a cow that is restrained by 10 to 20% over the full lactation. Coupled with the fact that she will go in calf easier, use less fodder and be capable of more flexibility when she may or may not get out on grass. All this for the cost of one AI straw or the difference between 4 kilos of feed a day to 6 kilos.
There are multiple options available for farmers to supplement minerals especially at the breeding season. The most cost effective and reliable method is to incorporate a fertility mineral booster pack into the feed. Here at Crecora Mills we have been doing this for many years now with great results. All it requires is to ask for the fertility mineral pack to be included into your feed at your feeding rate and allow for a day or so notice to manufacture your specific feed to your rate.
He also made the point that we are among the only nations in the world that do not believe in feeding minerals to our cattle throughout the year. He gave the example of a household cat or dog who in most houses get a balanced feed with minerals and vitamins all year long but the cows who we depend on for our living are just fed minerals in the run up to calving and for a few weeks after calving through the feed. We need to balance the fodder that our cows get to boost productivity and reduce health issues. How farmers chose to do that is entirely up to them, through mineral buckets, mineral powder, through feed or through boluses. Each farmer will have their own ideas on what works with their farm management.
He highlighted that in most of the blood tests that he is asked about by vets from around Ireland the most common mineral deficiency is not a Copper problem, its Magnesium deficiency. We need to keep an adequate level of Magnesium in our diets. Magnesium is not just about preventing metabolic problems such as Grass Tetany, it is used in pretty much every biochemical reaction in the cow and so is vital for a productive healthy animal.
Inform Crecora Mills of your feeding rate when ordering your Dairy nuts and they can increase the Magnesium levels to suit you.
Grass availability is also becoming a huge restriction on cow performance. In most farms that are split into 12 hour grazing blocks it is not uncommon to go to the block 2 hours into the 12 hour allocation to find it grazed out. In this scenario the cows are going hungry till they are back into the milking parlour. The proof of it is to give them an extra allocation of grass and see how well it is grazed out. In 99% of cases a 24 hour allocation will be grazed out in 12 to 16 hours. The consequences of restricting grass intake are low milk solids, restricted production and poor thrive.
Des Cronin maintains there are only 2 skills a farmer needs.
- To Measure grass
- To count money.
It requires a lot of effort to make sure that grass intake is not restricted and if you find you do not have enough grass then you have to have a plan B to fill the diet. Preferably if you are watching and judging correctly then you will be able to supplement small amounts of feed during the rotation to ensure you don’t run out of grass. What happens in most farms is that come May there is no grass left and suddenly much larger volumes of feed are fed to compensate. A little and often approach is far more cost effective.
Silage Quality is also a big issue this year with a lot of very dry silages suffering from Secondary fermentation. This occurs when air permeates the face of the pit after taking out a grab and a serious loss of energy results. Silage that went into the pit at 66 or 68 DMD may only feed out at 64 DMD due to secondary fermentation. Beware! You can tell if it is a problem if you remove 6 inches of silage from the face of the pit and can feel heat in the pit. This is the silage undergoing secondary fermentation and losing energy in the form of heat.
Best practice to minimise losses from secondary fermentation are to use a good sharp shear grab so as not to disturb the pit face, feed once a day not every 2 days and be prepared to get rid of silage that they are refusing to eat. Obviously if you have moulds on your silage be sure to remove them before feeding. Mouldy silage will depress the cows immunity and lower feed intake and production. Be very careful if you are handling moulds in silage as it affects humans greatly also. wear a mask and minimise contact with it if at all possible.
If Animals are reluctant to eat the silage then you are best off to clear it out of the feed passage. Cattle are brilliant at picking out the best in their fodder and quite often whatever they leave behind will be of little or no nutritional value to them. If you tested fodder that they are reluctant to eat quite often you will find it would be around 40 DMD. If you force them to eat it you will hammer your potential production, weight gain, animal health etc. There is a very good reason why they don’t want to eat it!
Acidosis was mentioned in the seminar also. Des Cronin made the point that we should be trying to gradually bring in grass into the diet after calving if possible. The turbo charged leafy spring grass can cause a lot of digestive upsets in cows and lead to Ruminal Acidosis.
Crecora Mills have a lot of experience in helping to prevent Acidosis. We have a rumen buffer pack that we can include in our feeds to help stabilise the rumen of the cow. Crecora Mills also manage the fibre levels of the feed to try to combat problems before they arrive in Springtime by increasing the fibre levels using quality feed ingredients such as Beetpulp and Soya hulls.
Paul O’Connell from Crecora Mills made a few points at the end of the seminar about some other Agri-business advice.
- Tell Crecora Mills your feeding rate so we can best advise you on your nutritional needs.
- When you need our fertility mineral pack in your feed just ask and we can incorporate it for you.
- To help prevent Hypocalcaemia in cows at calving try to feed them silage from paddocks that did not get slurry that year. When you cut those paddocks and bale them, mark them or put them aside to feed to cows before calving. These bales should have far less Potash in the silage and it will help prevent Hypocalcaemia.
- Our best agri-business and economic advice is to get more from your cows at a stocking rate that is manageable on your farm before you increase numbers. Its just good business sense. Minimise your risk of fodder shortages and less labour.
- Two many cows for a farmer leads to highly stressed farmers who are under too much pressure to manage grass properly. This results in bad decisions being made and losing money. We have seen a few cases where 20 less cows results in a happier farmer who is better able to manage his grass and makes more money.
Paul made the point that at the end of the day the motivation for Crecora Mills is not to make our customers buy more feed for the sake of it. Rather it is to understand and value what they feed their animals in order to get the maximum return from the feed. To put it crudely if our farmers are not making money then Crecora Mills are not making money so it is in our interests to help our customers maximise their profits.
Keep an eye on the website for more news and updates on upcoming events and advice.
Any business enquiries please contact 061 355186