Feeding the Autumn Calving Cow in Early Lactation

Feeding for Fertility in Early Lactation
When a mature cow calves, she will initially only consume circa 10Kg dry matter per day.  Typically it will take her 10-12 weeks before she reaches her peak intake.  However it will only take about 5-6 weeks before she reaches her peak milk yield.  This creates an energy gap that has to be met by a cow’s own body reserves i.e. the cow ‘milks off her own back’.  The larger this energy gap and the longer it lasts the harder it will be to get cows back in calf.

Figure1-The Energy Gap

Supplementation Rates
To meet a cow’s energy requirement it is important to feed a high-energy, high quality diet.
The recommended concentrate input for 6,000 litre (1,300 gallon) autumn calving cows in early lactation is presented in the following table.

Concentrate levels required for autumn calving cows 6,000 litre (1,300 gals) in Early Lactation

Herbage Intake Supplementation rate where Grass Silage (GS) is offered Supplementation rate where Maize Silage (MS) is offered
Outdoors fulltime

Outdoors fulltime
(12 Kg DM grass)Indoors full time

c. 4.5 Kg 14% CP c. 4.5 Kg 14% CP

c. 8 Kg DM grass
(7–8 hrs grazing)

GS by night +
c. 5.5 Kg 16% CP
50:50 GS:MS by night +
c. 5 Kg 18% CP
c. 4 Kg DM grass
(2-3 hrs grazing)
Ad-lib GS +
c. 6.5 Kg 18% CP
Ad-lib 50:50 GS:MS +
c. 5.5 Kg 22% CP
Indoors full time Ad-lib GS +
c. 7.5 Kg 20% CP
Ad-lib 50:50 GS:MS +
c. 6.5 Kg 24% CP

Notes on above table:
 Supplementation rates above are for herds yielding 6,000 litres (1,300 gals), this equates to peak milk yields of 27-30 litres (6-6.5 gals).  Rates should be increased/decreased by 0.5 Kg per 500 litre (100 gal) herd yield increase/decrease.
 Where there is no grass in the diet a supplementation rates of 7.5Kg and 6.5Kg are based on reasonably dry (>18% DM) 70 DMD grass silage and (>25% DM) >25% starch maize silage.  Supplementation should be adjusted by 1 Kg for every 5 DMD increase/decrease in silage quality.
 Protein levels of supplements are based on grass and maize silage protein levels of 12% and 9% respectively and should be adjusted if silage protein levels differ from these.

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