Managing milk quality
Following a slow start to grass growth in early spring, the end of May and early June has exceeded averages, with grass growing at over 100 kg DM/ha. Producers with excellent grass growth may find sward management difficult and in some cases there may be a reduction in milk quality. Milk butterfat can suffer due to an increased in levels of Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA) which are supplied by grazed grass. Within the rumen these PUFA’s undergo bio-hydrogenation to saturated fat via a number of intermediates known as CLA’s. Some of these CLA’s, especially the trans- 10 and the cis- 12, are known to impair fat synthesis, which results in a milk fat depression.
Forage Fibre Digestion – for the producers that are witnessing poor grass quality, forage fibre digestion may be negatively affected which in turn reduces the level of acetate production which is a key driver for milk butterfat. In this case it can be helpful to feed sugarbeet and soya hulls which contain highly digestible fibre.
Rumen pH - Research at UCD has suggested that rumen pH can suffer at grass with sub abute ruminal acidosis (SARA) being the end result. Thompsons’ unique rumen buffering product, Rumitech365 can help reduce the effects of SARA during the grazing season.
Fat content of the ration – in general feeding rumen protected fat such as C16 tends to improve milk butterfat however high levels of rumen unprotected fat are detrimental and will cause a milk butterfat depression.
Milk Protein is suffering more than usual this grazing season due to the rapid growth of grass, resulting in stemmier grass being grazed. Although breeding and stage of lactation can have an impact on milk protein, if nutrition is the causative factor it may result in a negative energy balance.
Get your Feed Rate Right – with poorer grass quality it is vitally important not to overestimate the potential of grass. If grass quality is 11.5ME and cows are consuming 14kg DM on a good day, then this will supply the cow with enough energy for maintenance plus an additional 16 litres of milk. Cows should then be supplemented with concentrate at a rate of 0.45-0.5kg/litre, always allowing for changes in grass quality, quantity and adverse weather conditions. Current sampling of grass highlights not only the vast variation between farms but also within farms.
Starch Increases Milk Protein – research from AFBI Hillsborough has demonstrated substantial increases in milk protein when high starch concentrates are fed at grass. Summer rations are designed to be glucogenic (high in starch, particularly maize) to drive milk protein.
Balmoral Show 2016
With wall to wall sunshine, the 11th – 13th May at Balmoral Park could not have had a better starting point for a great show. With the usual offering of tea, scones and cups of cold water for customers, the Thompsons stand was a welcome rest from the cattle lawn activities. On the Friday world class dairy cattle competed on the lawn with an upbeat mood amongst exhibitors on ‘dairy day’. Thompsons would like to congratulate all the show winners and look forward to seeing everyone for four days in 2017.
The Thompsons DD pack, developed in association with Zinpro Performance Minerals is the first product within the U.K dairy industry to address the issue of digital dermatitis from internally within the cow. While it does not replace the need for well managed DD protocols on farm such as foot-bathing and slurry management, it does represent not only a new trace mineral product but also an entirely new approach to controlling and reducing DD on dairy farms. The Thompsons DD Pack is now available upon request from Thompsons for further information on the product and DD pack trial work please contact the Tech team on; 02890351321.
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