required by these cows. Supplementation needs to continue
up until mid-July to support intake.
The next scenario is looking at the demands of the cow
producing in excess of 35kg and the level of supplementation
that they require. As we can see in Diagram 4, we now need
to supplement these cows all year round, but we might stop
supplementing in May or June under the pretence that there is
loads of grass available. Maybe she can eat 17-18kg of grass
DM to make up some of the shortfall, but not all of it, and this
is when nutritionists get a lot of phonecalls because of repeat
breeders, low milk protein or falling milk yield.
Living in Ireland, we also must contend with the weather,
and so, we can't assume that these cows will consume 16kg
of grass every day. This affects growth, ground conditions
and utilisation. Also, in the absence of grass measuring and
budgeting, on a lot of farms, this excess grass in the green
area can lead to reduced sward quality and digestibility. This
not only reduces the intake of energy per kg of DM, but also
the actual intake of these cows. Research has shown that dry
matter intake (DMI) can drop by 0.2-0.35kg for every one per
cent drop in the DM of the grass below 18 per cent. This could
mean that on wet days, intake could drop by 2-3kg of DM.
Further research has shown a 0.6kg drop in DMI for every one
per cent drop in the digestibility of the grass.
So, the main points we should consider over the next few
what type of cow you are breeding on your farm;
and their current yield;
supplementation (silage 65 DM digestibility). This is an
upper feeding limit, so when out full-time on grass at
23L, they might need no concentrate in the summer. But
use forage once you need to go past 2.5kg (23 x 0.11).
avoid the overfeeding of concentrates when grass doesn't
meet requirements above the recommended concentrate
feeding levels (above).
Base cessation of buffer feeding or supplementation on the
requirements of your cows, taking account of the top 20 per
cent of cows, rather than the time of the year.
Make sure buffer feeding is balanced for energy, protein,
fibre and, sometimes underfed in the main growing season,
Using a diet feeder can also reduce the waste of feed, which is
sometimes overlooked when you look at manure heaps.
*InTouch, part of Keenan, an Alltech company, can offer feed
formulation, advice and monitoring of production levels via a
smart weigh controller on your diet feeder.
wth & demand (k
on a maximum intake of 16kg of DM (grey).
Max grass intake/cow/day