Early Turnout Challenge to Milk Quality

UK - Earlier turnout this year will pose an even greater challenge to dairy farmers if they are to maintain butterfat levels and avoid a serious dip in profits.
calendar icon 2 April 2012
clock icon 1 minute read

“Rain and mild weather has resulted in lots of lush grass and while grass is rich in rapidly fermentable sugars, it has insufficient functional fibre to maintain chewing and cudding to promote healthy rumen function and prevent butterfat depression,” warns Robert Jones, managing director of specialist supplement manufacturer Ufac-UK. “Defra confirms that the situation is as serious as ever with milk fat expected to drop by up to 0.2 per cent below the annual average this spring,” he says.

He points out that for a dairy farmer producing 1 million litres per annum on a compositional contract this could mean £4,000-£5,000 loss in milk revenue. Cows need at least a fortnight for their rumen to convert from a high fibre to the low-fibre diet provided by grass. But for high-yielding cows, grass simply doesn’t provide enough nutrients so yields, as well as butterfat, are likely to drop.

The correct nutritional strategy should involve supplementation to complement the nutritional attributes of grass. This should involve long — thumb-length — fibre to buffer the rumen and careful selection of concentrates, including a rumen-friendly digestible fat to boost energy intake.

“Trials with our own product, Buta-Cup, have shown that appropriate supplementation can improve returns from a 200 cow herd by £2,000 per month, after taking into account the cost of the supplement,” said Mr Jones.

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