With dairy units now looking to turn out cows as soon as possible to help boost margins, nutritional supplement manufacturer UFAC-UK is urging farmers to focus on ensuring cows perform to their optimum to get the best returns.
To promote efficient use of grass to support healthier and more productive cows, and therefore higher margins, investment rather than cost-cutting is the best strategy.
“Rather than asking what savings can be made by making cuts, flip the coin and consider what returns might be achieved from carefully selected feed inputs,” said Mike Chown, UFAC-UK technical ruminant manager. “Perhaps more pertinently, you should ask yourself ‘how much do I risk losing if I cut something out?’, the answer invariably is that the potential loss will far exceed any saving.”
Mr Chown advised farmers to focus on what they want the cows to achieve, and consider how they can harness seasonal benefits alongside nutritional supplementation to support grazing. This could maximise the price received from contracts and increase margins.
“While undoubtedly turning cows out can help reduce costs, we want cows to graze efficiently and to milk in a way that can achieve those best returns, through a combination of good quality milk and hitting the profile,” he explained. “We also need to increase the prospects of keeping the cows on profile in the future, which means getting back in calf.”
He added that it requires a change of mindset and strategy in the selection of feed inputs this spring, with the need to address limiting factors such as grass nutritional value and supply. Suitable adjustments and additions to dairy diets can have a big impact on performance, health and fertility, and therefore margins.
“For example, with the lush, fresh grass in early spring low in effective fibre levels, it is crucial to provide effective structural fibre to complement grazing, to maintain rumen health. Equally, if you feed for a return, then correctly balanced fat supplements have an essential place in diets, particularly as maintaining milk quality, fertility and mobility can be a challenge when cows go to grass,” Mr Chown said.
He concluded by saying that it is important to understand what to look for and to select a correctly balanced fat supplement to meet herd requirements.
Further details are available at www.ufacuk.com