Dairy cows facing energy deficit crisis this winter

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Length: 235 words; 1-2 minutes

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Low grass energy levels and reduced supplementary feeding this summer mean that large numbers of cows are entering winter with less than ideal body condition, warns KW nutritionist Dr Anna Sutcliffe.

“Once housed, these cows are going to prioritise regaining body condition ahead of milk output, with fertility, lameness and milk proteins also likely to suffer if the energy deficit continues,” she states.

“The lower energy in this year’s grass silages only adds to the challenge, and unless rations are adjusted to increase energy intakes, many herds will struggle to hit winter targets.”

The impact on milk income could be substantial. On some milk supply contracts, a 0.15 percentage point drop below milk protein threshold will cut milk price by 0.5ppl, whilst regaining 0.5 BCS can drop milk yield by 1.9 litres/day for three months.

“The energy required to regain 0.5 BCS typically equates to around 0.75kg/day more dry matter intake (DMI), or a 0.5MJ ME/kg DM lift in ration energy density,” Dr Sutcliffe continues. “However, the more practical option is usually some combination of the two.

“…Lactoboost or Molale will raise ration energy density and boost DMI.”

“For example, adding a palatable high energy liquid feed such as Lactoboost or Molale will raise ration energy density and boost DMI. The confectionery blend SugaRich Dairy is another energy dense option, whilst KW SodaWheat, sugar beet feed or Traffordgold wheat-gluten moist feed are ideal if silages are acidic or rations already contain high levels of rapidly fermentable concentrates.”

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