Priority must be to minimise drops in yields

Achieving high peak milk yields in April or May is a very important aspect of achieving high milk yields; this is well recognised by farmers.

However, holding high yields for a long grazing period is even more important, and this is not widely achieved on farms.

Very often, milk yields and milk protein start dropping too rapidly in June, and while the protein recovers in July, yields never fully recover. Co-op milk protein percentages dropping in June proves that cows are generally under fed, coinciding with the time of year when it is usually very difficult to maintain grass quality. Milk protein has been good so far this year, no doubt due to good quality grass.

The top priority is to minimise the seasonal drop in milk yields and keep it to less than 2.5% per week or 10% per month. Good herds of cows milking around six gallons in June should be milking 5.5 gallons in July, and about five gallons in August. Grass quality should be kept as good as possible, and meal supplemented as necessary to maintain yields (if quota allows).

Despite the cost of ration, it is good value where required. Recording data indicate that average yields of recorded cows in early June were almost six gallons (26 litres), and this should be the minimum target for most farmers. Reports from around the country show that a lot of herds were averaging less than five gallons (22 litres) per day in June.

This suggests that grass quality on many farms is poor, or cows are being forced to graze too tightly, because most herds have the potential to yield 25% higher if they have plenty of good grass, even with little or no supplementation in good conditions.

Some very low yielding herds are on controlled starvation diets, and this is generally very costly in terms of milk yield, fertility and general health. Output per hectare might be OK on these farms, but it never pays to keep three cows to do the work of two.


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