Oct 06, 2021
How to maximise feed from forage and improve fibre digestion
Oct 06, 2021
Welsh dairy farmers David and Wendy Morris talk us through the strategies that they are implementing to maximise milk from forage.
Using the Opticut system
“Last year we adopted the Opticut approach which meant we were able to make five cuts. However due to the challenging weather in the spring, we were a week or so late with our second cut,” says Mr Morris.
Last year, Mr and Mrs Morris changed to the Opticut system, which results in the majority of their cuts being 12 MJ/kgDM or above.
“We achieved 37 litres per cow per day for a month-long period last year, but with the unpredictable weather we might struggle to match that with this year’s second cut,” says Mrs Morris.
“The first cut this year, had an ME content of 12.1 MJ/kgDM, and NDF of 39.4, though protein was slightly lower due to the cold weather this spring,” Mr Morris explains
“We try to make fairly dry silage and then add water back in, to help stop the cows sorting through feed so they get a more balanced mouthful every time. The overall dry matter target in the TMR is 41%.
“We feed only 1kg per day of concentrates in the parlour, so the bulk of energy comes from the TMR. We focus on accurate measuring and make sure we give it time to mix properly,” Mrs Morris explains.
Improving rumen pH and fibre digestion with yeast
“To help maintain rumen pH and support fibre digestion, we add Levucell SC TOXISORB, which is a unique combination of rumen specific live yeast and high-quality yeast cell wall.
“Our goal is to keep pH as high as possible, so the microbial population is balanced for optimum fibre digestion, and if cows are going through a period of stress, for example just after calving or while bulling, these additives help stabilise the rumen and reduce the risk posed by ingested mycotoxins.” Mr Morris adds.
“Having the added yeast cell wall is a good insurance policy because, while you don’t necessarily need it all the time, it’s there for times of stress and seems to carry cows through more smoothly.”