The New Year traditionally brings with it a downturn in milk composition as freshly calved cows move into peak lactation.This year the economics of dairying has naturally focused all producers on the need to maintain and improve milk quality. Whilst the factors affecting milk quality can be placed in many categories from breeding to management to animal health, there is significant evidence to show that nutrition has an influence and is a central tool in the manipulation of milk quality particularly in the short term.
The nutritional management of milk fat is commonly more easily achieved than milk protein.The starting point for any producer is the analysis of the forage being fed and what dry matter intakes are being achieved. With some of the wetter forages, dry matter intakes of 8-9 kg are proving to be normal, and well below the aim of 10-12 kg. This can play a significant role in low butterfats, with cows suffering from clinical acidosis or sub-acute ruminal acidosis (SARA). Sudden and or prolonged drops in rumen pH can have a detrimental effecton production and milk fat concentration as well as the overall health of the cow.These wetter silages have also been responsible for an increase in lactic acids and overall increased acid loading, further reducing forage intakes. Rumitech365 - a unique product to Thompsons - has been proven to reduce the incidence of SARA and time below critical pH levels by 60%. Rumitech365 enhances microbial activity in the rumen leading to a 7.5% improvement in digestibility of dry matter. In terms of milk fat, Rumitech365 has been proven to lift milk fat by an average of 15 points (Figure. 1) alongside an increase in milk yield of over 7% or 2.3 litres/cow/day.
Forage quality has a significant role to play in determining milk protein with research showing the higher the silage digestibility the higher the milk protein percentage. With this in mind prioritising higher quality forages for the fresher portion of the herd makes sound sense. Milk protein % however can be further manipulated by feeding a more Glucogenic diet.Energy as starch in the diet drives glucose production which ultimately will be used for milk protein synthesis. Feeding Glucogenic rations with higher levels of starch provide additional glucose and have been well proven locally to increase milk protein production in the mammary gland (Figure 2).In addition to enhancing milk protein, Glucogenic diets have been shown to improve milk yield and reduce day’s anoestrus (days not cycling) in early lactation.The Whitegold range from Thompsons has this ethos at its core. This highly Glucogenic range of rations contains high levels of starch in the form of both rapidly fermentable starch as wheat and more slowly fermentable starch as maize to continually drive glucose production.The inclusion of Rumitech365 ensures that rumen pH levels remain optimal in spite of the higher cereal inclusions. Feed rates, and as such energy intakes, also play a significant role in milk protein composition and the temptation to reduce feed rates to fresh calved cows based on the current milk price should be avoided. Fresh cows in a prolonged negative energy balance will suffer not only from low milk proteins, but ketosis, displacements and subsequent fertility issues.
For further advice on how to manage and maximise your milk composition contact your local Thompsons’ representative or Belfast on; 028 9035 1321.
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