Feed changes key to avoid potential 1ppl loss from low butterfats

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Length: 216 words; 1-2 minutes

Cows buffer feeding image

The 0.1-0.3 percentage point drop in butterfats that typically occurs in early summer can cost milk producers up to 1.0ppl, claims KW nutritionist Dr Anna Sutcliffe. “Depending on contract details, that’s a significant cut in milk income, and DEFRA figures for the national herd suggest that full recovery doesn’t occur until September or October,” she states.

“However, with the right feeding and herd management through the summer, this drop-off can largely be avoided.” The main cause is insufficient fibre digestion to supply the building blocks needed for milk fat synthesis, whether due to low dietary fibre levels, excess free oil in the rumen, heat stress or sub-acute ruminal acidosis (SARA). SARA also affects how the unsaturated fats in feed and grass is processed, resulting in a form that inhibits milk fat synthesis when it reaches the udder.

Vistacell image“So boost diet digestible fibre levels to at least 35% using feeds like soya hulls in any buffer, and add a minimum of 1-2kg/cow/day of fibrous forage – hay, baled silage, straw or whole crop cereal silage – to promote good rumen function,” advises Dr Sutcliffe.

“Adding Vistacell live yeast or Acid Buf slow-release rumen conditioner can also improve conditions for fibre digestion, as will careful feed choice to keep overall free oil levels below 5%.”

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