According to the results of a three-month ADAS-monitored trial on a commercial UK dairy unit, application of a forage pre-treatment increased total mixed ration (TMR) D-value and energy content, leading to improvements in both milk yield and fertility.
The D-value of the TMR improved from 63 to 65%, whilst energy content rose from 10.5 to 11.1 MJ ME/kg DM. Average dry matter intake (DMI) for the 50 first lactation heifers used in the trial increased by 2 kg/day, resulting in a 0.6 litre/day lift in average milk yield (28.2 vs. 27.6 litres/day).
Greatest gains were seen towards the end of the trial (day 68 to 84), when the average milk yield improvement rose to 1.4 litres/day (27.7 vs. 26.3 litres/day).
Heifers were milked twice daily and split into two equal groups, each receiving a TMR consisting of maize and grass silage plus a concentrate premix. Fresh TMR was prepared during each milking, with the TMR for one group receiving no treatment (control) and the other having VistaPre-T forage pre-treatment applied at a rate of 750 ml/tonne DM.
“In addition to the gains in DMI and milk yield, heifers receiving the treated TMR also showed improved conception rates, requiring an average of 2.3 inseminations per pregnancy compared to 3.2 in the control group.
“This was most likely due to a rise in energy status, suggesting that in addition to producing more milk, the heifers fed the treated TMR were also better at maintaining or gaining body condition,” adds AB Vista Ruminant Product Development Manager Dr Nicola Walker. “Four months after the trial started, 84% of the heifers in the treated group were confirmed pregnant, as opposed to just 64% in the control group.”