Take steps to ensure appropriate energy sources are supplied to stimulate rumen microbial activity and to achieve the required throughput to encourage high intakes without compromising rumen health.

Feeding cows efficiently this winter will be crucial to make the most of any improvement in milk prices. And, according to molasses and liquid feed specialists ED&F Man’s Georgina Chapman, on many units there are steps that can be taken to drive feed efficiency by looking closely at every stage in the feeding process.

“Feeding efficiently means getting the right feeds to the correct cows in the ideal form to maximise intakes to drive production, while reducing waste to help control costs,” she says. “And, with attention to detail, it is possible to improve how efficiently the forages and other ingredients are used.”

The starting point is to ensure forages are analysed regularly during the winter to check the diet is balanced correctly. Ms Chapman says all clamps should be analysed at least monthly, and certainly whenever the proportion of different cuts in a clamp changes significantly.

Reliable analysis

Silage quality, particularly dry matter, will vary throughout the clamp, this must be taken into account. Armed with a reliable analysis, formulating a ration to promote good intakes, as well as rumen health to encourage rapid rumen throughput and balancing forages with the most appropriate and cost-effective purchased feeds, is possible

“Silages require careful balancing this year. Average analyses for both first and second cuts show high NDF contents, which will have an impact on rumen fermentation. So ensure that appropriate energy sources are supplied to stimulate rumen microbial activity and to achieve the required throughput to encourage high intakes without compromising rumen health,” says Ms Chapman.

Read more here