Cowman's Tips for Turnout
Harbro Dairy Specialist, Andrew Jardine gives some useful tips for turnout.
When the time comes to turn out cows, use a gradual approach to introduce fresh grass to try and minimise rumen upset. Five days afternoon only, five days 10am-4pm, five days 7am-4pm and finally
day and night grazing.
- To help maintain milk quality levels, particularly butterfat, make available a high digestible fibre buffer TMR if possible. A good time to present the buffer feed to the cows is after morning milking to allow dry matter and sugar levels to increase in the grazed grass as the morning progresses. Feeding the buffer mix in the morning creates a fibre “raft” in the rumen which helps efficiently control the digestion of grazed grass.
- Consider the risk of sub-acute rumen acidosis (SARA) whilst grazing cows and consider actions which may help reduce its impact.
- On a three times per day milking routine, optimum grazing time would be between mid-day and evening milking.
- Investing some money and time into cow track construction/maintenance could pay dividends. Cows need to be good on their feet to make the most of faraway grazing, so giving them a robust, clean and purpose built walkway can avoid unnecessary feet problems and field poaching.
- Is there enough water reserve in the fields/paddocks? With limited time to graze, drink and cud before returning for milking, empty water troughs are not an option.
- Assess your grass - what quantity is available, of what quality is it? Remember to carry your beer can! The height of the can when standing on end indicates ample quantity to graze. Once the grass height is the same as the can lying sideways there is not enough to meet the cow’s needs.
- Consider mineral supplementation. Cows grazing full time with no TMR buffer will be deficient in trace elements and major elements. Even with 4kg of mineralised compound, trace elements will still be below requirements.
- Take into consideration adverse weather conditions. Increase dairy compound or buffer feed levels during periods of prolonged rain, as dry matter intakes will be greatly reduced. Lastly, If we consider the points above and the prevention of poor fertility, the most cost effective way to get cows in calf remains to focus efforts and expenditure on the transition cow.
Speak to your Harbro dairy specialist about what tailored solutions we can offer for your transition cow management.