Supervision feeding dairy cows - Practical Experience
Supervision feeding dairy cows - Practical Experience

Supervision feeding dairy cows

Feeding and feed intake problems can lead to metabolic disorders with dairy cows. Subsequently claw diseases or lying damage can increasingly occur. Therefore, continuous supervision is important. In this, the milk test report can provide valuable information.

Groups which need special attention:

  • young cattle

  • dry cows

  • first lactating

  • early lactating

First lactating and early lactating cows are especially susceptible to feeding problems:

  • more likely lower ranking → high social stress
  • frequent displacement by higher ranking animals 
    can often not take in enough feed or drink enough water
  • metabolism change means high physiological stress

Mark abnormalities in the milk test report
(milk ingredients, fat-protein ratio, urea, cell count, ...)

→ can make "problem animals" or "problem groups" evident

Disclose error sources:

calculated ration 

  • check ration calculation (feeding consultant)
    → extra ration for dry cows
  • yield adapted feeding
    → if necessary, form feeding groups

mixed ration

  • check the individual components
    → e.g. check silage quality of the various cuts

ration given

  • is the feed the same at all feeding places or does demixing occur?

  • watch for high ranking animals: are there preferred feeding places and why?

ration eaten

  • demixing through selective eating after a while?
  • ratio of concentrates to roughage should be the same even 1 hour after propounding (e.g. straw > 5 cm is intentionally sorted out)
    → check this with jigging screen!

ration metabolised

  • animal related checks, also for indicator groups
    • ruminant chews

    • rumen fill

    • faeces consistency

    • body condition scoring (BCS)

    • check milk reports for signs of ketosis/acidosis
      (e.g. fat-protein ratio should be 1 – 1.5)

Rumen pH in comparison

Rumen pH in comparison with frequent small and few large portions for dairy cows

Generally:
  • many small meals are better than a few big ones – rumen pH remains more stable
    → adapt feed delivery frequency or push feed back

  • problem: lame cows walk less often to the feeding table (a vicious circle starts)

  • ruminant friendly feeding: much chewing → much saliva → much buffer → good rumen environment

  • water drinking controls roughage intake – the cow produces milk, not milk powder!
    → rule of thumb: 10 cm drinker length/cow, water flow 20 l/minute

dairy cows eating at the feeding table - feeding supervision is very important

download article (PDF, 228 kB) »