This months linked article's:


Spring / Summer is a very critical time for dairy cows that are producing a lot of milk and great care has to be taken in feeding them correctly. We thought that a quick step back to basics would do no harm.

Possible problems

  1. Are you cows producing higher levels of milk than last year?
  2. How do you intend to feed them at grass?
  3. Will you be offering them some forage supplementation (i.e. Buffer feeding)?
  4. Do you feed high magnesium minerals to avoid death from grass staggers?
  5. What levels of parlour feeding (or blends) do you intend to feed?
  6. Do you suffer sudden milk drops 2 - 3 weeks after turn out?
  7. Do your cows lose condition within a month of turnout?
  8. What happens to your milk quality in May / June / July?
  9. Do you know how much grass your cows are eating especially on wet days?

Possible answers

  1. Digestible fibre is needed to slow down the rate of progress through the rumen to take best advantage of the quality grass going in the other end.
  2. Buffer feeding is essential to maintain high yields of milk.
  3. There is a desperate need for energy and fibre in spring but of the correct type (e.g. digestible fibre).
  4. Cows will look after themselves and if not fed correctly there will be big drops in production as the bodyweight falls.
  5. Milk proteins and butterfats will fall is nutritional aspect of the diet are incorrect.
  6. The biggest Holsteins will struggle to eat enough fresh grass to maintain more than 24 - 26 litres during May and June and the rest of the litres need to be sustained by supplementary feeding.
  7. Keep a tight control on stocking rates to avoid wastage and contamination of grass leading to the lowering of daily intakes.
  8. Monitor your cows carefully to cover all the points mentioned and be prepared to react to change rapidly.

Taking all these factors into consideration means that dairy cows probably need to be monitored even more so than in winter. Very little room is left in the rumen after grazing all day so the input of the dry matter feed (i.e. parlour feed / straights / blends) need to be of the highest quality packed with the correct type of energy, protein and digestible fibre. We have taken all these factors into consideration when formulating our dairy diets for the spring and summer. We also have to cover all types of herds from those producing 5,000 litres average per year to those producing in excess of 11,000 litres, so we therefore have to have a range of product to suit each and every type. One thing we can totally guarantee is that all the diets are based on a FIXED FORMULATION and FIXED PRICE for the May to August period. Take a fresh look at your moisture content on your declaration ticket, we are always 10 > 12% moisture (88 > 90% Dry Matter). We are amazed at how many declaration tickets show 16% or higher (i.e. 84% Dry Matter). Why would you want to buy water in your compound, when if for example, a compound costing £150 at 16% moisture, is the equivalent to an extra £6/t against our compounds. Ours will not go mouldy in the bin, as do higher moisture compounds.

We believe we have put together a very practical range of feeds not only to maintain high yields but also to let the cow express their full potential of your cheapest product - GRASS. We know we will be competitive in the market place and we also have the products that will not vary in their make up throughout the summer. Can you current suppler guarantee FIXED FORMULATIONS AS WELL AS A FIXED PRICE? We firmly believe there is no point in selling a product that has an energy value less than grass, you will be wasting your money unless you are using the product as a mineral carrier only - it will not produce milk as economically as a quality higher energy, higher priced product. Cows respond well to our policy of QUALITY PRODUCTS FOR QUALITY PRODUCTION as our many valued customers agree.


The cows go out and butterfats plummet. It's a picture repeated across the country every year. But is it worth doing anything to maintain butterfats, and if so what? David Woodcock, Technical Business Manager with Optivite considers the options.

As ever at this time of year, thoughts turn to what should be done, if anything, to boost butterfat levels at grazing. Nationally we usually see a 0.4% fall in butterfat levels. In some herds the decline can be as much as 1%.

There is no doubt that butterfat is increasingly becoming a problem area for those in the EU responsible for managing the overall milk market. Globally butterfat prices continue to fall on the commodity markets, which is a growing concern.

However many UK milk contracts still include both bonuses and deductions dependent on butterfat levels. Dairy farmers looking to maximise returns from their contract must keep a close eye on butterfats.

The first stage in deciding whether it would make sense to try and maintain fats at grass is to understand the terms of your milk contract. If the contract will reward high butterfats or penalise low levels, then it is worth considering what the options are to maintain or increase levels. If there is no milk price advantage, then don't incur extra costs chasing something you won't get paid for.

If it makes sense to take nutritional action to influence butterfats, the next stage is to look at what has happened historically on your farm. What are fat levels at turnout and by how much do they usually fall? What are fat percentages now and how do they compare to previous years? It may be that fat levels are higher than usual now and even if you experience a typical grazing depression you will still exceed the deduction threshold.

Once you understand the extent of the possible problem it is time to consider what action can be taken.

There are two crucial points that must be remembered. The first is that approximately half of a cow's milk fat production comes from her being able to convert the end products of rumen fermentation into milk fat. The remainder of the butterfat produced comes from fats fed in the diet, or from the mobilisation of body reserves.

The second vital point to remember is that feeding dietary supplements will have little effect if the basic rumen fermentation is incorrect. Therefore the starting point to achieve higher fats at turnout is the rumen.

To achieve high levels of fat production, the diet needs to encourage a fermentation, which results in high levels of acetic, and butyric acid, which are the precursors for milk fat. This in turns requires a diet high in structural fibre and low in sugars. This is exactly the reverse of what we find in spring grazing.

The other problem is that the fermentation encouraged by high grass intakes can lead to an acidic rumen, which can further inhibit fibre digestion. If you want to increase grazing butterfats the first stage must be to ensure an adequate supply of structural fibre to help control rumen pH and increase the supply of butterfat precursors.

Check the fibre levels in all supplementary feeds and consider changing to a HDF concentrate or feeding beet pulp. The other option is to hold cows back on a winter ration for part of the day. Bear in mind that any significant supplementary feeding will reduce grazing intakes and you may need to tighten stocking rates.

The other way to boost fat production is to increase the supply of fat fed in the diet but care needs to be taken to feed the right sort of fat because different fats have different effects in the cow. Some can create an oil slick in the rumen, which reduces fibre digestion and dry matter intakes.

Fats based on calcium soaps are shown to be effective in raising milk yield but not fat percent. The best fats for improving milk fat contain a high proportion of palmitic acid (C16 fats), which is readily utilised by the cow and efficiently diverted to the udder.

If you have studied your milk contract and calculated that a butterfat increase would be financially beneficial, the CS plus will undoubtedly be the product to use.

We have a limited tonnage of CS Plus bought very well and under the current market price. Ring the office today 01948 661602 to avoid disappointment before stocks are gone.


CS PLUS has been designed for raising BUTTERFATS in particular, whilst improving milk yield, maintaining cow condition and helping with fertility. The blend of protected and slow release fatty acids - C16, has been put together to maximize synergistic effects on net energy yield and milk quality. The unsaturated: saturated ratio is close to 3:1. The glucose blend enhances liver function and hormonal, nervous and enzymic systems to increase overall animal performance. More...



We know that all farm situations are different and therefore 'one blend' will not fit into all farms: i.e. differing cow yields, types of forages, amounts of forages, forage quality, etc.

Getting the right blend will improve performance in terms of yields, quality and cow health. A properly balanced blend / compound can be worth up to 5 litres per cow. We will supply you a FIXED FORMULATION with ONLY QUALITY RAW MATERIALS to suit your individual situation. All of our blends are produced in a coarse blend form with accurate computerised weighing of all materials, which are mixed thoroughly in the mixer before being held in bulk bins.




Two groups of dry cows with the far off dry cows fed at least a minimum of a high specification mineral tub and some forage as well as ad-lib straw. All cows and heifers to have at least 21 days on a transition diet. Cows should have a body condition score of between 3.0 to 3.5. Thinner cows should be on a transition diet for longer.

Ration faults:

  • Trying to slim dry cows in the dry period
  • Poor cow comfort
  • Low vitamin and minerals
  • One dry group
  • The use of milking cow minerals in a dry cow diet


  • Low quality forage
  • 'Roughing' it approach
  • Mouldy feeds
  • Wrong diet formulation

Diets should contain similar forages to those fed post calving and either blend or EXCEL PRE CALVER ROLLS. A high specification mineral should be fed. Our EXCEL DRY COW MINERALS / BUCKETS cover all your mineral and vitamin requirements. This transition diet should be formulated by a competent nutritionist to check it meets the modern cows requirement. If you need advice with dry cow management please ring the office on 01948 661602.

Remember comfort is paramount. Pay attention to these cows and mastitis, lameness and infertility will be reduced.



Gareth or Rachel (Office)
01948 661602 Fax 01948 871776