Fodder, Dairy Production

and Dietary Efficiency

As we reach the eve of harvesting fodder, are you prepared to produce quality? This issue isn’t new… But the quality of the fodder you’re getting ready to harvest will significantly influence your herd’s productivity and your year-end financial results since fodder represents the very foundation of the dairy cow’s diet.
There are several important factors to consider in terms of fodder quality: species, fertilization and, obviously, preservation. However, the most important factor of all remains the fodder’s maturity or growth stage at harvest. Many of you have admitted that you would prefer to let hay grow a little longer… and would like to see swath behind the swather! But then one week of non-stop rain drenches your fields, hay has reached maturity and the quality you originally hoped for just isn’t there. At that point, even if all the other factors were beyond reproach, the harvested fodder will not produce the energy and protein you wanted, and the price of concentrates (once again) will stand out when analyzing your feed costs. Interesting to note that regardless of Mother Nature’s disposition from one year to another, there are still farmers capable of producing superior quality fodder.

Fodder Milk Production
We’ll often hear people say that they “produce fodder milk”, and for many this means feeding their herd a minimum of concentrates. There are several ways to see this… but in my opinion, fodder milk refers to maximizing production by feeding superior quality fodder. Fodder harvested in the early growth stage contains more sugars and this helps the fermentation and preservation processes and makes it easier for cows to digest and consequently increases consumption. Regardless of the fodder quality harvested, cows will still need concentrates and the difference will be in the quantity and quality of those concentrates. Naturally, production expectations will vary according to the type of fodder on hand. Milk produced from fodder is excellent and this applies to the best herds of any breed. The common link is that hay and silage are also excellent!

Dietary Efficiency
Now is also the time to talk about dietary efficiency. How to get the most milk possible from each kilogram of dry matter ingested by the herd? We can’t reinvent the National Research Council (NRC) standards or the laws of physics: A cow can consume up to 4% of its live weight in dry matter. So you may as well maximise the quality of everything being served since, as I mentioned in the introduction, the effect will not only be seen in productivity, but also on the cost-effectiveness of your business. The NRC doesn’t sell feed; its recommendations are the product of long hours of work by researchers and nutritionists to define the nutritional needs of animals according to their growth and life stage for the purpose of making the most of production, reproduction and health factors.

Our work consists of offering you ingredient combinations to complete and complement the fodder served as a dietary foundation. A cow’s rumen needs fibres, but also a proper balance of amino acids, starch, minerals and vitamins to function at its best and reach a good lactation peak. This peak will be critical in terms of the quantity of milk produced during the full lactation phase.
Now’s the time to get ready for an early cut and to maximize the milk produced from your fodder. The secret? Start really early! Because it usually ends later than we want it to. Happy Harvesting!

 
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