Many farmers will be milking cows later this autumn.
The response to concentrates with autumn grass is generally good, but depends a lot on the genetic potential for milk production of the herd, and the supply and quality of the grass available.
The higher the genetic potential, the better the response will be. If grass is scarce, there is always a good economical response.
With a reasonably good supply of grass, well bred cows should give a response well in excess of one extra litre of milk per kg of concentrates, at a feeding rate of 2-3 kg of concentrates.
With the likely price of milk and concentrates this autumn, this should result in a return of at least €1 worth of milk for 70 cent worth of concentrates.
It is important to feed a concentrate high in fibre. Where very high quality bales are available, they could replace much of the concentrates.
Apart from immediate milk response to autumn supplementation, there are many other benefits.
By maintaining good yields in September/October, it will be easier to stretch fairly good yields up to December, which will be the drying-off date for most farmers this year.
Low yields going into late autumn bring problems with low lactose and other quality criteria. Of course, thin cows and first calvers might have to be dried off earlier, depending on calving dates.
Dry matter in autumn grass is generally very low, and if the weather is unfavourable, it is very difficult for cows to consume sufficient grass.
All animals have to get special attention in the autumn to ensure that they enter the winter feeding period in good order.
Disease prevention measures are very important.
Cows should ideally be dried off at condition score 3 to 3.5. Mature cows require about a two-month dry period, but thin cows and first calvers will usually need a longer dry period.
Replacements should be carefully assessed and backward animals should get special attention as soon as possible.
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