Correct starch choice critical to cow performance this winter

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Cows being fed image

Careful choice of starch feeds is critical this winter if milk producers are to get the most from this year’s grass silages and maximise margin over feed costs.

Many dairy rations will need extra fermentable energy to help drive rumen fermentation and counter the high lignin and low digestible fibre content of 2019 grass silages. Relying too heavily on cereals for this energy risks triggering acidosis, and further compromising fibre digestion in the rumen.

Select the starch feeds that support rumen function and offer best value rather than those offering lowest cost per tonne. Feeds with a slower fermentation rate or those also including sugars and oil will help create a more effective rumen energy supply.

Key facts & figures:

  • Efficient conversion of forage into milk critical to good margin over feed

  • Acidic silages and high cereal usage increase the risk of SARA1

  • SARA1 reduces feed efficiency and milk from all feeds, not just forage

  • For maximum efficiency, minimise time the rumen pH is below 5.8

  • Use slower fermenting ground maize or Soda Wheat instead of rolled cereals

  • Feed SugaRich Dairy or SweetStarch to spread rumen energy release

1 Sub-acute ruminal acidosis

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