When it comes to producing a healthy herd, dairy cattle feed is the number one priority of any dairy owner. Taking care of this core element will help to ensure top-quality dairy output. A great diet can also improve the quality and yield of your milk, boosting overall potential profit.
Here at the New Heritage Feed Company, we believe that the right feed is crucial for keeping your animals healthy and happy. Visit our website today to explore how our feed supports a healthy herd.
Dairy Cattle Feed for A Happy Herd
Choosing the correct feed is the secret to managing the overall nutrition of your herd. As such, it should play a key role in your other decisions. Several factors work together to boost the overall health and wellbeing of your cows. Some top tips for success include:
- Be selective with your first field
Grass is a critical staple in the diet of any cow. It is super high in nutritional value, and has the added bonus of reducing your feeding costs! Basic grass is high in Omega-3, which can be very important for boosting fertility and increasing milk supply.
When choosing your field, it is best to select a space that has had time to rest. Try to choose grass sitting fallow since late September or early October. This option will offer the biggest nutritional benefits, as the grass and soil have had a chance to recover from grazing activity.
There also must be plenty of grass for the herd, and the sward length should be between 8-10cm for optimum results. Soil is another important consideration. Soil composition will have a direct impact on the quality of the grass produced, and the health of the herd.
Damp fields should be avoided where possible – these will become boggy and difficult to manage when faced with heavy hoofs! Instead, opt for dry, light soils which offer a firm foothold, and tasty feed.
Knowing when to move on is also essential. As cows graze, they stimulate sward growth, but the effects can take a while to show. Once the sward has been grazed down to 5cm, move the herd on to allow the grass to recover fully.
- Put youngsters first
The main priority should be first-time grazers and yearlings. Their smaller size causes less damage to the soil, allowing for a greater intake of grass. Younger animals also have higher feed conversion efficiency, allowing them to enjoy more benefits. In addition, these younger animals are more vulnerable to worms, and so their exposure must be kept to a minimum.
- Keep an eye on magnesium
`One of the biggest issues facing cows on grass is magnesium deficiency. Grass staggers, or tetany, can take hold very quickly and has the potential to be deadly to herds.
Dairy cows are particularly susceptible, and a magnesium deficiency can promptly develop. This problem is especially prevalent in lactating cows, who also lose magnesium via milk.
For this reason, relying on grass alone to keep your herd healthy can be a mistake. Instead, focus on finding a feed that is high in magnesium to supplement grass-fed cows. Where possible, stick to natural-based sources, as the animals will more easily absorb these.
- Be selective with fertilizer
The grass your cows graze on needs to be of the highest quality, so picking the right fertilizer is essential. As a rule, grass responds best to nitrogen fertilizer.
Soil temperatures taken at 10cm should be above 5°c for a minimum of four consecutive days. Aim for well-drained, south-facing slopes, which include a light soil, as these tend to favor earlier growth. Avoid potash fertilizer; this can reduce magnesium intake and cause issues.
- Stay hydrated!
A vital part of any dairy cow diet is less obvious, but perhaps the most important: plenty of water! If your cows become dehydrated, milk yields drop. Ensure that your animals have access to plenty of water at all times.
As a rule, each cow in the herd should have access to 60 litres of water a day as a minimum. Any particularly high-yielders may need more and can consume over 100 litres a day with ease. Spread water troughs throughout the field and feeding areas, and keep them in good condition.
- More fat, more profit!
As human beings, many of us try to avoid fat where possible, but fats are a staple of a healthy dairy cow diet. The correct fats in the right amount have a range of benefits for your herd. From increased milk production to improved fertility, the immune system can improve, keeping your cows healthy.
Grass alone tends to contain around 3.5% fat, so you will need to supplement with a high-quality, natural feed in most cases. High-yielding cows will require about 6-8% of fat in dry matter to maximize productivity. A high-quality feed is essential to help your cows meet their need for fats, allowing them to produce quality milk in higher quantities.
- Choose a great feed
While grass is an important aspect of your cow’s diet, it cannot provide the results you need when used alone. To help maximize the productivity and yield of your herd, it is crucial to choose a top-quality feed.
Natural ingredients are best where possible; this mimics the evolutionary and biological requirements of your herd. This, in turn, allows them to absorb the nutrients and benefits they require. It also minimizes disruption to the digestive system, reducing the risk of allergies, inflammation, or discomfort.
Enjoy The Goodness Your Cows Crave!
Here at the New Feed Heritage Company, we pride ourselves on offering top-quality, delicious feed for your animals. The focus on natural ingredients allows your herd to benefit from supplements and natural additives, with minimal side effects.
A plant-based diet helps to ensure that your cows are in tip-top condition and keeps the herd healthy and happy for longer. Great nutrition and wellbeing start from within. Focusing on a healthy, balanced diet can boost milk yield and profits in no time.
Head on over to the New Heritage Feed site today and explore our array of options. Your cows will thank you for making the change!