'Optimising rumen function key part of feeding strategy'

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Northern Ireland dairy farmer Andrew Reid says that optimising rumen fermentation efficiency is an integral part of a feeding strategy that has seen annual yields hit 10,000 litres/cow, with butterfats at 4.11 per cent, on a system using grass as the primary forage.

"The only way to keep yields this high and maintain butterfats is to make sure the rumen spends as much time as possible working as efficiently as possible," Andrew said. "At this level of production you simply can't cut corners, and we've found that in addition to paying close attention to the balance of the ration, Vistacell using Vistace/1 has been absolutely essential.

"We also put a lot of focus on the dry cows – I believe a good transition is key to producing a 10,000-litre cow. Dry cows are fed a high-volume, low-energy density ration formulated to optimise the rumen ready for lactation.

"That includes the live yeast to ensure conditions in the rumen are already as stable and efficient as possible when we need the cow to perform post-calving."

Andrew's 200 Holstein Friesians are fed as one group during lactation, with the year-round total mixed ration (TMR) based on a combination of grass silage, straw, soyabean meal, maize meal and soya hulls, according to AB Vista.

Tags: dairy