It is now probably over 3 months since you started winter feeding your cows. How many of you have checked the feeding programme since? Things almost certainly will have altered, especially the silage. Perhaps production or quality performance is not as good as expected. Now is the time to check all the inputs again and if necessary alter things. If you would like advice or help please give us a ring we will only be too pleased to check over your feeding programme.

With the ever increasing need for improving efficiency, milk output will need to increase without affecting the fertility or overall health of the dairy cow. A close liaison with your vet and nutritionist / feed supplier is essential to keep everything in order and ensure that maximum output is being achieved in the most efficient manner. Feeding modern dairy cows can be complicated but unless it is correctly done both animal health and profits can suffer. If not fed correctly milk quality and poor fertility could result.

As we have discussed many times in previous editions it is not always one single factor that can be at fault, but a number. However, improving the nutrition will get a quicker response than most other changes. It has been claimed in various circles that over 5p per litre can be saved by a combination of improved feed use, improved fertility, improved herd health, improved milk quality, reduced feed costs and through greater longevity. The number of lactations per cow has declined steadily from 4.78 lactations in the 1970's to a modern day average of 3.48 lactations, and the Dutch and American average is even worse. One way in which some of these factors can be improved is by getting the length of chop correct with your silages. We would recommend that all silages should be chopped to a length of 5cms to ensure there is enough long fibre in the ration to get a correct and healthy rumen function. This will also have the affect of 'opening up' the diet and increasing intake.

Your contractor needs to be aware of your situation and that he ensures you get what you ask for.