December 2017 Monthly Management

Mineral Supplementation, Drinagh Milk Quality Standard, Soil Fertility & Testing

21 December 2017

Mineral Supplementation

Correct mineral and vitamin supplementation in a dairy cow pre-calving feeding program is essential to animal health and performance. Mineral imbalances or deficiencies in the dry cow period results in metabolic disorders such as:

  • Retained cleanings
  • Milk fever
  • Weak calves & higher mortality rates
  • Reduced heath performance – increased incidences of lameness, mastitis, etc.
  • Reduced a milk production and fertility in the following lactation.

To avoid these undesired outcomes, it is recommended to feed a pre-calver mineral for 6 – 8 weeks before calving.

Feeding Minerals correctly:

Feeding pre-calver minerals must also be completed correctly, problems arise where there is insufficient head space for all cows. If head space is tight, powdered minerals should be top dressed on silage twice per day - half in the morning and half in the evening. Problems can also arise when minerals are being offered at below the recommended feeding rate, the full rate is required to get the desired amounts of minerals and vitamins in to the diet. Care is also required when beet or maize silage is included in the diet before calving, Beet and maize silage are lower in mineral content than grass silage and require higher feeding levels of pre-calver minerals to address the shortfall.

Feeding concentrates to cows before calving

Feeding a dry cow compound nut with pre-calver mineral included in the lead up to calving helps condition the rumen for higher levels of concentrates after calving. It also assists in getting the good amounts of pre-calver in to the cow in the vital days before calving. In this transitional period before calving, a cow’s feed intake is reduced, and she may not get her full allocation of minerals from top dressing on silage.

Drinagh Milk Quality Standard

Each supplier will receive a copy of the Drinagh Milk Quality Standard in this month’s accounts.

There will be a change to the way TBC penalties are applied from Jan 1st, 2018. In the event of a TBC failure the fine will no longer be across the months milk supply, instead the penalty will be applied to the volume collected on that day only. Please see TBC bands and the penalty per litre outlined in the table below. In the event of a failure a supplier will be retested for the following collection until the standard is met. For more info please see the Drinagh Milk Quality Standard.

TBC band
Penalty (Cent per Litre)
for milk collected on the day
0-50 Base Price
50-75 4
75-100 6
100-200 8
200 -300 10
>300 12

Soil Fertility & Testing

Soil testing is a reliable guide to assessing and monitoring soil nutrient levels. A standard soil test will give an indication of the soil fertility status through levels of phosphorous (P), potassium (K) and soil pH (lime requirement).

To achieve optimum grass yields, soil nutrients need to be at correct levels to meet requirements. Soil fertility is like a barrel of water, the limiting nutrient in the soil will determine the yield of the crop (see picture).

When carrying out a soil test, some precautions must be considered:

  • Allow 3 months after chemical P, K and slurry applications to take a sample.
  • Do not test at least 2 years after a lime application to get an accurate pH reading.
  • Take a minimum of 15-20 points working in a ‘W’ across the field, 10cm deep will give a good sample.

Soil test results can be used to draw up a specific fertilizer plan for your farm.

Contact Tim/Darren for soil corers.

December Special Offers

*Offers valid from 22/12/2017 to 20/01/2018