Negative Energy Balance & Conception rates
With the late spring there is a possibility of nutrition issues on farms now that could have an effect on conception rates during the coming breeding season. Negative energy balance 4-6 weeks before breeding can reduce conception rates.
Dairy Specialist Shane Leane has but together the below information which may be useful.
Low milk protein
- Low milk protein can be associated with a lack of energy in the diet of the dairy cow.
- Insufficient energy in the milking cow’s diet can result in low milk protein, low milk yields, poor fertility, poor immunity and susceptibility to disease and metabolic disorders as well as loss of body condition.
- Inadequate energy intake in early lactation can cause excessive loss of body condition and significantly impact the success of the breeding season. See graph below highlighting the influence of BCS on 3 week submission rate.
Monitoring milk protein
- Compare current milk protein percentages in the milk tank with the same time last year, use a 10 day average figure. Note when comparing figures with same time last year, account for changes in calving pattern and milk yield. If protein is more than 0.2% below same time as last year consider increasing energy intakes.
Body Condition Score
- Aim for a herd average body condition score of 2.9 at the beginning of the breeding season.
Options to minimise BCS loss
- Thin animals should be put onto once-a-day milking straight away. Leave with the main herd and feed as before.
- Try to ensure cows are on a rising plane of nutrition.
- Feed a high-energy (0.95+UFL/kg fed) concentrate at the following rates to support 23kg milk production per cow:
- 3kg 14% crude protein (CP) concentrate on grass full-time (13kg DM)
- 4.5kg 16% CP concentrate on grass part-time (7kg DM) and 70% DMD silage (5kg DM)
- 6kg 18-20% CP concentrate if housed full-time on silage (11kg DM).
- Beware of digestive upsets, build up concentrate levels gradually to reduce the risk. Pay particular attention to first calvers when feeding high concentrate levels.
- Rule of thumb - Rolled barley has a UFL of 1.00. All other feeds are expressed relative to barley. For example, soya hulls has a UFL of 0.88, which is 88% of the value of barley, on an energy basis.
- Feeding a high UFL/moderate CP concentrate means that milk potential from energy marginally exceeds milk potential from protein. This is likely to be beneficial for retaining BCS.
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