Summer is almost here which can only mean one thing…it’s time to get the silage made!!
So to make sure you have the best silage for your dry cows we’ve pulled together the top 5 tips to help you on your way.
As you know, a dry cow’s diet that is too high in energy encourages the animal to put on too much condition, which can cause problems when calving, complications at breeding and impact on milk yield.
To overcome this problem, farmers often feed straw and silage to dry cows that are in good condition, however, when a farm does not have a feeder-wagon; it’s more difficult to incorporate straw as part of the dry cow diet.
If you have this problem, don’t worry, because here’s how to get the best dry cow silage feed.
- Use stemmy grass silage
Stemmy grass silage acts as a bulky feed for dry cows, which is much cheaper to produce than high DMD silage and is better for dry cows.
- Cut low potash grass
Aim for low potash grass when cutting which is low in Potassium (K). Silage that is high in K is associated with retained placenta and milk fevers. This can lead to costly consequences later in the season and can impact on milk yields in early lactation.
- Use late silage
Silage cut later in the season has lower levels of K present and can be more beneficial as dry cow feed as this type of silage allows for greater magnesium absorption.
- Avoid silage from the top of the clamp
Silage for dry cows needs to be palatable, free from moulds and mycotoxins. Silage from the top of the clamp is more prone to these problems and should be avoided when feeding dry cows.
- Look for silage with a long chop length
Silage which has a relatively long chop length and is stemmy in nature improves scratch factor and thus promotes rumen function and cudding. This means the rumen is ready to digest the high levels if intake required by early lactating cows. Ideally, this should have a relatively high DM content of between 35 and 50%.
Whilst there are a number of essential minerals (Magnesium, Selenium, Iodine, Zinc, etc.) required for a balanced dry cow ration, possibly the most important from a grass silage perspective is Potassium. Over supply of Potassium can result in the reduced absorption of Magnesium leading to cases of milk fevers.
Remember, now is the time of year you need to begin to plan your feed for next winter.
They are just out and already you need to start thinking of them heading in again!!!