The challenges of dairy production become even more interesting when producing more milk becomes synonymous with increasing revenues! This year, the Fédération des producteurs de lait du Québec allocated extra production days in May, June and July in addition to its fall incentives, which have already been in effect for several years. This represents significantly more revenues for each producer; we're talking about several thousand dollars, not an unimportant increase in salary. A little extra work allows you to take advantage of this great opportunity.
I’ve written on this topic a few times, but because it’s so important, I thought it would be a good idea to do it again. Incentive programs have been in effect for quite a few years, but truth be told, only a handful of producers embrace these opportunities. Numerous strategies are possible to get the most out of these programs and one of these is certainly the type of ration fed to lactating cows. Rations can be reassessed and revised to make them the most favourable and attain the cow’s full milk production potential. However, I am not only referring to the calculated ration, but what the cows are actually ingesting. Once this information is known, appropriate adjustments can be made.
Production and the level of components produced in the milk can help guide us. Question such as what is the average production of this Holstein herd, is it 22 or 40 litres per head? What is the actual fat percentage, is it 3.7 or 4.4 kg per hectolitre? Equipped with this data we can already determine which elements should be considered.
For those whose production and components are already at peak performance, then other strategies can be implemented to take advantage of these extra production days, such as adding extra cows to the herd and/or increasing daily milking up to three or four times at the start of lactation.
There are other options available depending on each producer’s needs. Is the protein content in the ration sufficient? The bacteria in the rumen require more protein (and amino acids) to function effectively. At $700 per metric ton, one half kilo of protein supplement only costs 35¢ per head per day and requires less than one-half litre of milk more per cow to make it cost effective. The same applies to grain and resulting energy.
For rations that are already at their best, the addition of a more palatable food – such as Synchro Pulpolac or Synchro Pulpolac F3 – may be beneficial without hindering the ration’s concentration and also contribute to adding more digestible fibre. The day-to-day cost of this strategy is only $0.55 to $1.10 per head and may produce a very interesting return on investment.
Obviously, we shouldn’t overlook important management issues. This is the summer and several factors other than ration may be limitative by restricting the herd’s comfort, especially the stress caused by the heat and insufficient water consumption. Adequate ventilation as well as clean ducts and water troughs should be a priority. Based on this key information, it’s quite amazing to see the differences in production occurring among various herds.
Finally, in situations where improvement in milk fat ratio is needed, the addition of specific fatty acids could be considered to produce a positive outcome. What this means is that improving milk fat ratio by less than one tenth of a point following the use of the Synchro 4216 supplement to replace Synchro 4214 is enough to justify the investment and help fulfill the quota.
Don’t hesitate to contact your expert consultant; La Coop can help you determine the best strategy to meet your specific reality. Our goal is to help you reach yours!