Seven Tips for Holding Peak Milk Production into Late Spring

There is a massive amount of effort that goes into getting your herd calved down and peaking as early as possible. It’s never about doing just one thing well, there are a numerous complex factors that have to be managed incredibly well to achieve early peak milk solids production.

If you have put the effort into early lactation, the last thing you want to see is excessive amount of
post-peak decline in November - December. Consider these seven practical management tips to help your herd hold onto peak milk production as long as you possibly can.

Maintain the highest possible pasture quality to support dry matter intake (DMI). 

One of the biggest challenges in late spring is to maintain vegetative growth that contains highly digestible neutral detergent fibre (NDF) and optimal metabolisable energy (ME) values. Sounds simple enough, but the fact remains that nature is working against us - reproductive pastures naturally contain higher levels of indigestible fibre that reduce DMI and nutrient density at the same time.

One strategy to assist is topping and nitrogen applications. 

But don’t leave topping too late. Mature ryegrass plants will reduce the survival of daughter tillers and ensuing plant density. Start early, pre-grazing where practical. Continue to apply an appropriate source of nitrogen to support plant nutrient requirements. This reduces respiration and aids
plant digestibility.

Assess protein supply versus requirements regularly. 

Fibre digestion in the rumen will fall away if there is insufficient rumen degradable protein (RDP) provision, limiting metabolisable protein (MP). This will ultimately become a production constraint. Products such as canola meal, corn based distillers grain, cottonseed meal and soybean meal are all excellent sources of both rumen degradable and bypass protein fractions. 1-2 kg per cow daily does the job for
most herds.

Don’t be afraid to ramp up rumen fermentable carbohydrates. 

The total sugar content of pasture will certainly be falling, so it makes sense to utilise starches and sugars in any purchased concentrates or forage crops. Remember that these fermentable carbohydrates (energy) are used by the rumen bugs to proliferate and ultimately provide the best supply
of metabolisable protein to our cows.

Consider the use of a toxin deactivator that has a proven means to deal with PRGT. 

Cows affected by perennial ryegrass toxicosis (PRGT) have a greater tendency to be irrational and suffer from heat stress. Both of which will reduce total DMI and productivity.

Don’t overlook the importance of fresh, clean drinking water.

With increasing temperatures and pasture fibre content, nothing drops intake faster than limited or poor quality drinking water. Offering free access to salt may also aid hydration and water intake. 

Keep an eye on your milk components. 

A falling protein test relative to milk fat is telling you that your herd is struggling to maintain DMI. Blood glucose precursors in the ration will be limiting milk protein output. Time to review the total ration.



If you’re uncertain about how to review your ration for supply versus cow requirements, contact your
local Ingham Dairy Nutrition Specialist 0800 650 505 to arrange a farm visit and comprehensive ration review.

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