Farm Focus: Taking control
of the `transition' period
Congratulations, you have made it through February and, while March
brings its own pressures, we find ourselves getting back into more of
a routine now. We are in the `transition period' in every sense of the
word and it is during this time period that we can either take or lose
control of the year ahead. The main areas that the InTouch nutrition
team focus on over the next month are the following:
Body condition score (BCS);
Dry matter intake (DMI);
Ideally, a fresh milking cow should lose <0.5 BCS, which is about 20-
30kg of body weight. Beyond this we are compromising production
and fertility, and Teagasc and international research has backed this
up. While keeping an eye on milk protein can be a good indicator, we
get a `false' sense of this in early lactation as we don't see their true
milk protein until between four and six weeks post-calving. Protein
dropping to the low 3s, or even lower, is a common occurrence in
mid-March and we end up trying to rectify it then, but the horse has
Body condition in the dry cow is also important making sure they
are not gaining weight, especially the later-calving cows. Maintaining
a correct diet and proper mineral nutrition is key as our minds and
time are occupied with other jobs.
Knowing the DMI of these dry cows to avoid excessive energy intake
is as important as monitoring the energy intake of the milking cow.
It is important to establish how much intake milking cows require,
taking into account the top 20 per cent of cows as well as the average
cow. Grazing is key here and we should be on target to have 60
per cent of the farm grazed by March 17. Knowing how much grass
is in the paddock they are entering is important to determine the
intake and the supplement required on the other side. We need to
be diligent in this as there are too many farms that don't practise this
and `spare' the grass for fear of running out, leading to unsettled cows
but, more importantly, under-fed and under-supplemented cows.
Measuring the weight of your replacement heifers also places you at
a distinct advantage. If we have removed all meal from these animals
under the pretense of `compensatory growth' then we are wrong.
By all means, reduce the meal if they are on a high level but base the
meal inclusion on silage quality and weight targets. Based on Irish
Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) records, a lot of farms in Ireland
have heifers that are underperforming to the tune of 30-40kg of milk
solids. This could be costing 40-50 for every cow as farms look to
push cow numbers and replacement rates.
Focusing on the four key areas outlined above will mean you have the
ability to take control of your transition period and beyond.
`First of its kind' rumen-development
product from Auctus
Animal nutrition company Auctus has announced the
development of a product it says vastly improves the rumen
development process in calves from the first week of life. Since
the product launch at the Auctus premises on January 26, the
feedback from farmers that have fed the product has been
massively positive, according to the company.
"The combination of the three fibrous materials of Lucerne, first-
generation Timothy grass and dried straw provide the necessary
scratch factor to improve gut wall integrity, papillae growth and
sales director, said.
"This is a process
which can only
be achieved in
the early stages
of an animal's
life, when genetic
functions are being
established. An extremely palatable high-protein ration, coupled
with a balanced vitamin, mineral and amino acid inclusion, gives
superior efficiency and absorbtion of nutrients. Prebiotics are
also added to maximise gut health and assist the calf to establish
the correct microflora/bacteria populations." A demonstration of
how to feed First Fibre took place on the farm of Eddie Lynch,
Erne Valley Limousins, Grousehall, Loughduff, Co Cavan. Mr
Linnane explained: "Each 20kg heat sealed bale is pre-sliced into
approximately 2kg sections, so monitoring calves' intakes is simple
and accurate. The bale remains compact and totally fresh for this
reason also. A low moisture content is achieved due to the unique
manufacturing process, which means there is no risk of secondary
fermentation or mycotoxin build up, even if the bale is opened.
This has led to a long shelf-life being achieved of 12 months."
The overall palatability and nutritional advantages of First Fibre
increase intakes and develop the rumen at a much faster rate, to
lead to calves being weaned with sustained growth, the company
Entries open for 150th Balmoral Show
Karen Hughes and Kendall Glenn, Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS), have
announced that entries for Balmoral Show 2018 are now open. Entries can be made
online at the Balmoral Show website. The 150th Balmoral Show, in partnership with Ulster
Bank, will return to Balmoral Park from Wednesday, May 16, until Saturday, May 19, 2018.