November 2020 Monthly Management

Mineral Supplementation; Slurry Additives and Conditioners; Score 21% Replacement Heifer Nut; TASAH funded Dry Cow Consult

23 November 2020

Mineral Supplementation

Correct mineral and vitamin supplementation in a dry cow feeding programme is an essential factor in the health and performance of both the cow and newborn calf.

Quite often, mineral imbalances or deficiencies in the dry cow period can result in metabolic disorders such as:

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

To avoid these undesired outcomes, it is recommended to feed a high-quality mineral at the recommended rate for 6 to 8 weeks prior to calving.

it is recommended to feed a high-quality mineral at the recommended rate for 6 to 8 weeks prior to calving

Each farm may have different limitations associated with feeding supplementary minerals, but correct management practices can overcome many problems. Examples of such cases are:

Varying mineral content of forages:

Establishing the mineral status of silage through testing is the first step in ensuring that cows are being correctly supplemented. Silage mineral status can vary from year to year and many factors can account for this i.e. stage of growth of crop, slurry applications too close to cutting and varying soil fertility levels.

Insufficient head space for all cows:

If head space at the feed barrier is restricted, powdered minerals should be top dressed on silage twice per day - half in the morning and half in the evening.

Slurry Additives and Conditioners

Slurry additives or conditioners are a collection of microbes, enzymes and nutrients that are designed to aerobically (using oxygen) digest/compost slurry and manures.

Before and After Slurry Conditioning Treatment

These additives create and maintain a balanced environment and stimulate the activity of facultative anaerobic bacteria which digests solids at the bottom of slurry tanks. The benefits of slurry additives include:

  • Reduced time and energy required to agitate slurry tanks
  • Increased nutrient availability and value of slurry
  • Break down crusts and solids in tank
  • Reduced odours as ammonia is converted into bacterial nitrogen. In this way the nitrogen content of slurry can increase which is important for improving the fertiliser value of slurry.

Trial work has proven that treated slurry provides an immediate and continued supply of available nutrients directly to grass, as well as stimulating microbial activity in the soil.

treated slurry

By aerobically digesting slurry in the store, the biological oxygen demand is reduced when it is spread on the land. Consequently, the reduction of soil oxygen associated with the application of untreated slurry is minimized. This helps to support life in the soil, improves plant root growth and is an aid to improving soil fertility.

Score 21% Replacement Heifer Nut

Replacement heifers are the future of every herd and should be treated accordingly. In order to receive maximum return from heifers throughout their breeding and lactating life, they need quality feed.

Physical development is more important than age at first calving for a successful first lactation, so it is vital to feed youngstock in a way that will produce excellent growth rates and set up an animal for a long, productive life.

To help stimulate growth and achieve target weights, we have formulated the Replacement Heifer Nut to achieve maximum results:

  • 21% protein nut optimising Hi Pro Soya to promote growth and frame
  • Correct levels of phosphorus and calcium to ensure good bone development
  • Contains high levels of trace elements, minerals and vitamins.

Why is the Replacement Heifer nut 21% protein?

This change was based upon a review of all the silage samples submitted to Drinagh over the last number years (first and second cut pit samples, see chart)

average protein in first and second cut silage.png

After assessing the consistently low protein appearing in results of silage samples, we feel that replacement heifers will benefit from a higher level of protein. When supplied with the right level of dietary protein, heifers will continue to grow and develop during the crucial winter housing period.

TASAH funded Dry Cow Consult

The Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health (TASAH) are providing support to fund free Dry Cow consultations between trained vets and milk producers.

The purpose of the TASAH Dry Cow Consult is to enable milk producers to engage with their vet to develop farm- specific selective dry cow strategies, where appropriate. Milk recording results and farm records will be reviewed, as well as current practices when drying off cows, to help develop and plan these strategies.

Timeline: Application forms must be submitted to Animal Health Ireland by November 30th, 2020 and the Dry Cow Consult completed by December 30th, 2020.

To apply online or to download an application form please visit the TASAH Dry Cow Consult page.

Eligibility & Requirements:

In order to capitalise on the positive outcomes from this initiative, the service will only be made available to herds that already have the necessary information and records to support the decision-making process and planning.

To be considered eligible for the free service a milk producer must meet the following criteria:

  • Have an average SCC of 200,000 or less for the last 12 months
  • Have completed 4 whole herd milk recordings in the last 12 months
  • Be a HerdPlus member

Milk producers availing of the TASAH service will also be expected to adopt the following practices:

  • Ensure that the last milk recording is no older than 4 weeks at the time of the dry cow consult
  • Record the date of drying off and product used for all cows at the end of the 2020 lactation
  • Commence milk recording within the first 2 months of the 2021 lactation
  • Following the consult, record any clinical mastitis cases thereafter on ICBF, by SMS or the Animal Events page