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Nutrition Notes 18 December 2013


Seizegoodopportunity to increase dairymargins

OOKING backat2013, it beganvery badly,following on from the previous year’s monsoon-like conditions and then turned very dry and cold. This delayedgrass growth and


then turn out by at leastamonth on manyfarms,whichput alreadylow silage stocks under extreme pres- sure,with manyfarms forced into buying silage. Unfortunatelyinmanycases

these forages were not of the high- est quality,but were better than hungry cows. But this did mean thatcows thatwere alreadystrug- gling suffered further.Milk yields therefore suffered with the direct reduction in milk income,while feed costs rocketed. This has had a massive implication on profitabili- ty and cash flow ever since. However,fromMay onwards,

with better weather,feed costs beginning to drop and milk prices

The technical team from Clynderwen and Cardiganshire Farmers Ltd (CCF) provide technical information and tips, a focus on ruminants, and notes on nutrition every month.

Phil Evans Dairy specialist

increasing, dairy margins have increased significantlysince,but with manyoverdrafts stretched to beyond normal limits,these gains have taken time to showupinthe bank account. With milk prices at their highest forseveral years,and with hopeful-

ly further increases to come,and feed prices significantlylower than last year,this winter promises to be potentiallyone of the most prof- itablefor dairy farmers in years. Weknowmilk prices and bought-

in feed costs will be good, so the other part of the equation is silage quality and quantity. The three main winter

forages in this part of the worldare grass,whole crop and maizesilages.

Grass silage FlyGrazing of

Horses andPonies Flygrazing is thetermthathas been adopted to describe actions by irresponsible owners who allowanimals to grazeonland wheretheydonot have theconsent of thelandowner.

Thereisexisting legalisation that can help and local authoritiesare largelyresponsible forthe enforcement of current relevant legislation, although thepolice have powers relating to obstruction of thehighway and also any associated criminal damage(e.g. destruction of fences etc). As apreventative measure, if you arealandowner,you shouldtakenoteofthe following:

Firstly beware of thestranger whoapproaches youtorent land forwhateverthe reason given, especiallyifheoffersarent high above the going rate. Youmay see onemonth’s rent and no more,being left with theproblem of afield of ponies. If it’s sounds toogood to be true –it probably is!

Secondlythe letting of land is usuallybestdone through an agent whomay know or be able to vouchfor thecharacter of thetenant.Fly grazing couldeasilyhave an adverseaffectonsingle farm payments.

Reasons forthe increase of theproblem overrecent yearsare likelytobedue to theoverproduction of horses (many of whichare of poor quality) leading to asurplusofunwanted stock, adepressed market in horsesales, thehighprice of winter feed and the lack of available grazing land. All thesefactors have contributed to theflygrazing problems experienced across Southand West Wales.

Thoseaffectedbythe nuisanceofflygrazing include land owners wholoseincome and may be held legallyresponsible forthe ‘dumped’ horses under theAnimal WelfareAct 2006.

TheWelsh Government are at this time are reviewing the lawonthis subject, however if youdohave aproblem with fly grazing on your land andwish to seek advice on the existing legislation, do not hesitateto contactme, IanFudge on 01437771171 or email

IT’S NO surprise that when youcompare the weather,onaverage silages are drier,higher in energy, protein and sugar.They are also lower in fibre and predict- ed intakes are higher. If youlook at the combi-

nation of all the above then we would predict an extra 1-1.5 litres per cow per dayfromthis year’s silage.

While this is good news,

the extra sugar,protein and reduced fibre could put cows at greater risk of acidosis,especiallyas cereal prices are good and manydairy diets have high levels of wheatand barley included. There are quite afew cows whichare milking well, butare very loose.Itmay well be agood time to

Grass silage

Dry matter Protein ME PH

Sugar NDF Intake

reappraise the diet, as this could have long-term effects on cow health, yields,fertility and hoof health. Youmay need to change to a

higher digestible fibre cake or look forafeed thatuses ground maizeas astarch and energysource,instead of just wheatorbarley.Maizehas a high proportion of rumen bypass starch thatdoesn’t reduce rumen PHin the samewaythatother cere- als do.This makes it muchsafer to feed when lookingtoincreasemilk yields,reducing the risk of acidosis. There will be situations where

extra help will be needed, either in the form of rumen buffers suchas bicarb or yeast products suchas Rumenco’s Diamond XP .

Wholecrop silage

WHOLECROP silages seem to have suffered from the cold spring, whichdelayedgermination and growth rates.This wasthen fol- lowed by avery hot dry period in June and July, whichreduced grain filling and, in some cases,caused the crop to die backuptoamonth early,forcing some into harvesting early.


Dry matter Protein ME

Starch Fibre NDF Intake

All cut average 2013/14

40.1% 9.5% 10.2

19.2% 49.4 109

All cut average 2012

43.6% 9.2 10.4 23.7 44.5 116

This has reduced total yield and reduced the energyand starch lev- els overall and increased fibre lev- els.This will reduce milk yields slightly.

Maize silage

DESPITE aslowstart, maizecrops seemed to change overnight once the summer arrived. The crop thrived in the high temperatures and has reallycome into its own this year.This has meant that yields of fresh maizehavedoubled in some areas,and good cob devel-

All cut average 2013/14

33.7% 15.2 10.7 4.1 3.7 46.8 105

All cut average 2012

31.3% 13.2 10.5 4.1 2.6 47.8 99

opment has meant thatstarch lev- els are also muchimproved. Based on the early results,averages are as follows:

Maize silage

Dry matter Protein ME

Starch Rumen starch bypass starch NDF

All cut average 2013/14

31% 7.6% 11.4


224g/kgDM 121g/kgDM 45.1%

All cut average 2012

29.5 8.5% 11.2


187g/kgDM 89g/kgDM 51%

Starch levels are significantly

higher than last year,both as rumen fermentableand bypass starch.This should improvemilk yields significantly, butasisthe case with grass silages,there is a greater risk of acidosis if the diet isn’t balanced correctly. As more results come in forlater harvested crops Iexpect the dry matter to rise as the crop dies off, and bypass starch levels to increase as the grains will also be more mature.

Generally, forage quality is very

good and should provide agood base forproducing milk this winter. Asmall cloud on the horizon

could be silage stocks.Asmany farms had no carry over stocks fromthe winter and the dry spell in Julyreduced grass growth, some second cuts were alittle light on tonnage. Added to higher silage intake potential of manysilages (in some cases cows are eating up to 10% more than last year), cowsare mak- ing big inroads into the clamps already. Hopefullyanearly spring will help out,butasalways, Itend to budget formid April. It’s nowagood time to evaluate

silage stocks,and if anyadjust- ments to diets need to bemade,then agradual change nowcan avert possible problems later without adverselyaffecting cowhealth and performance. As some silages are very dry this

year with sugar at record levels, these maynot be very stable, espe- ciallyasthey tend not to have alot of lactic acid in them. This maybe seen at the silage face or in the trough, so clamp management is likelytobemore of an issue this winter. Water troughs mayalso struggle

to keepupwith demand as very dry mixes will drive the cows to drink more,especiallyifthey are milking well. In conclusion there is an oppor-

tunity this winter to significantly increase dairy margins through higher yields,milk price and lower feed costs.Silage quality should make this arelativelystraightfor- ward job as long as the ration is well balanced and acidosis can be prevented.


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