Nutrition: The Key to Boosting Milk Production
Proper nutrition is essential for achieving high yields of high-quality milk. Feeding cows according to their lactation point, optimising feed/water uptake and feeding supplements to protect health all assist in increasing production.
A significant nutritional factor influencing peak production is the transitional diet. It is essential that adequate nutrients, vitamins and minerals are consumed during the dry period in preparation for lactation. Underfeeding grain to fresh cows lowers both the peak production and total days in milk.
Vitamins and minerals are key factors contributing to a strong immune system. Cows with weak immune systems have less metabolic resources available to be used to synthesise milk.
Diseases such as mastitis, subclinical milk fever and acidosis cause milk production to drop. Supplements available to enhance the immune system and protect the udder include Copper, Selenium, Vitamin E and Zinc.
Water intake is also a key element to milk production. To optimise water intake, adequate amounts of clean, fresh water should be continuously available. To ensure that all cows are getting sufficient amounts of each ration component, the feed bunker should not be overcrowded.
Cows that are lower in the social hierarchy have less access to palatable feed portions if there is not adequate space, resulting in variable levels of nutrient intake within the herd. Frequently pushing feed also encourages increased intake levels and total time spent eating.
In addition to increasing overall yield, proper feeding ensures that your cows are healthy and subsequently protects your bulk tank SCC.
Need help managing your bulk tank SCC? Our new SCC Impact Reports can help you to monitor your bulk tank averages and determine which cows to pull from production to avoid penalties or reach your next premium. Visit our SCC Impact Reports page, or contact us directly.
About the Author
Anna Schwanke is an undergraduate student at the University of Guelph, Ontario. She is responsible for researching and writing about a wide variety of topics related to dairy cow welfare and management for Dairy Quality Inc. The 10 years she spent living in Australia, as well as her love of travelling, give her a firsthand viewpoint of issues facing the international dairy community. She plans to graduate from the University’s College of Physical & Engineering Science in 2019 and pursue a career in the Life Sciences or Agriculture industry.
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