The bad weather towards the end of April has resulted in grass scarcity and poor grazing conditions on many farms.
In these situations, silage or strip grazing silage has to be introduced, as well as extra concentrates.
If you suspect that some cows or most of the herd are too thin, don’t be afraid of feeding extra concentrates.
Don’t force them to eat that last blade of grass off the paddock.
At the end of the year, the cost of necessary concentrates will pale into insignificance compared to the cost of a poor breeding and performance season.
Slow down rotations when grass is scarce. There is a lot of unnecessary feeding of concentrates. National records show the average concentrate use per cow in Ireland is almost one tonne, compared to average milk yield of only 1,000 to 1,100 gallons per cow.
This is mainly due to poor quality pasture, and poor pasture management.
As concentrates are 4 or 5 times the price of good grass, they should not be used to substitute for grass but as a supplement when required. But at this time of year you have what you have, and cows have to be fed properly.
Many of the best performing farmers say that the cows are the best indicator of how much concentrates should be fed.
If cows are getting too thin, and are milking poorly, with low protein, and are forced to graze too tightly (and disease is ruled out) — they are being under-fed. If cows are not grazing out their paddocks to 4.5cm (2 inches), concentrates should be reduced, or grazing areas could be reduced.
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