Essential oils will help fertility (Feed 4 Thought issue 4)
You will need fresh calved cows to make the most of improving milk prices, and this means you need to focus on fertility now, according to David Turnbull from UFAC UK.
“You want the herd to be firing on all cylinders when prices start to pick up so you need to make sure they are getting in calf quickly,” David comments. “We know that many cows hold to service initially but fail to conceive, leading to extended calving intervals and long interservice intervals. “The problem is one of increased embryo loss with embryos failing to implant in the uterus. Supplementing the diet with essential fatty acids from marine sources is proven to reduce embryo loss and increase pregnancy rates.” David explains that the long chain omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA which are found in high quantities in marine oil increase the production of progesterone, the hormone responsible for embryo implantation. This increases the number of embryos that successfully implant, reducing embryo loss, increasing the number of cows getting in calf and in so doing reducing semen costs. By increasing progesterone levels they also encourage stronger bulling behaviour, making heat detection more effective. “There are many sources of omega-3 oils on the market but to get the best results you need to make sure you feed them from fish oils and not from plant sources such as linseed. The research clearly shows that marinederived omega-3s are used more effectively by dairy cows. “Adding rumen inert fish oils to your diets now can have a big impact on fertility and that will be very good news as and when prices rise again.”
Welcome from Robert Jones, MD
Low milk prices are leaving their mark on the industry. Margins are under pressure and the rate of farmers leaving the industry has risen. The good news is that there finally appears to be an upturn in the key global markets with increases seen five weeks running. Prices for all traded commodities grew and the overall price in the Global Dairy Trade Auction was the highest since July 2014. Long may this continue, and may it work through to farm gate prices sooner rather than later. There are many farmers who are setting out to weather the storm, looking to squeeze efficiencies and control costs. A dairy farmer told me recently the aim must be to only cut those costs that do not directly affect the cows, and this is sound advice. You want your cows in optimum condition, producing well and with plenty of fresh calvers in the pipeline ready to exploit any rebound in prices. Look after the cows now and they will look after you then. I know our products can help you achieve this
Feeding to improve butter fats this summer
Increasing milk quality, specifically butterfats is about the only option open to dairy farmers to positively influence milk price in the short term. According to UFAC’s Mike Chown while it is possible to take action to boost butterfats, it will need careful rationing and close attention to detail especially as cows go out to grass when BF typically drops.
There is no doubt that raising butterfats will increase prices under the terms of many constituent priced contracts. Bonuses of 1.5-2.7p/% depending on contract terms are quite common so the incentive is there. With margins under pressure it is vital to stress that whatever you do in pursuit of higher prices must be economic. There is absolutely no point doing something if it doesn’t generate a margin, so make sure you know the true costs and measure the returns. Equally you need to make sure that any short term gains don’t store up longer term problems. For example, you don’t want to boost butterfats now if the consequences are poorer body condition score and fertility later in the year when hopefully prices will be showing signs of recovery. So what are the options?
Relationship between yield and %
First and foremost it is important to remember that yield and constituent percentages are strongly correlated. In simple terms a cow produces a weight of constituents per day which is then distributed across the litres produced. So as yield increases so the constituent percentage drops because the weight of fat or protein produced is spread over more litres. To illustrate this point, table 1 shows the butterfat yield at different combinations of milk yield and percent. There is roughly the same physical fat in 25 litres at 4.1% as there is in 30 litres at 3.5%.
Table 1 – Fat Yield
Fat%/ 20 25 30 35
3.5 700 875 1050 1225
3.7 740 925 1110 1295
3.9 780 975 1170 1365
4.1 820 1025 1230 1435
If you want to produce higher quality milk you have to feed for it or one or other will suffer and this will mean increasing the energy in the diet.
Where does fat come from?
As well as ensuring the total energy is sufficient it is vital to feed the energy that will result in a higher fat yield. Butterfat actually comes from two sources:
• 50% comes indirectly from the majority of diet, from the VFAs produced by rumen fermentation
• 50% comes directly from oil in the diet
To maximise fat production you have to address both these sources. You need to make sure the basic diet is right and then ensure enough oil/fat in the diet. Provided this is achieved you will usually see both an increase in yield and in fat production. For the basic diet you are looking at establishing and maintaining effective rumen fermentation and maximising dry matter intake. Key to this will be such factors as;
• Feeding frequency and feed space
• Forage: concentrate ratio
• Balancing the sources of energy to ensure rumen synchrony and to reduce acidosis risk
• Avoiding sudden changes to the ration
For grazing cows it will be vital to maintain both grazing quality and quantity. Don’t leave the contribution from grazing to chance. Measure it and manage it so that cows are getting plenty of high quality grazing and clean water to maintain intakes. Then the issue is providing sufficient fat or oil. Table 2 shows how much dietary fat needs to be supplied for different yield and fat percentage combinations.
Table 2 Dietary fat (g/cow/day) requirements for different combinations
Fat%/ 20 25 30 35
3.5 350 437 525 612
3.7 370 462 555 647
3.9 380 487 585 682
4.1 410 512 615 717
If you don’t provide enough oil you won’t get the fat yield and fat percentage. You also increase the risk of cow’s mobilising body fat leading to condition score loss. The first problem is that grazing and silage are not good sources of oil. Cows eating 12kgDM grazing/day will get 360g/day of oil from forage so will need supplementation if butterfat production is to be maintained. A 30 litre cow at 3.9% fat will need additional 225g of dietary fat. So it is essential to know the oil content of supplementary feeds. Feeding 4.5kgs/head/day of a typical compound at 5.5% oil can supply the 225g required, but it is important to question whether it supplies the correct balance of essential fatty acids for production, herd health and fertility. TMR fed herds face a bigger potential problem as most commonly used straights such as cereals and oilseed meals are 2.5-3.5% fat so it can be hard to get the fat intakes required to support higher milk yield, butterfat levels and fertility. The best way to ensure sufficient supplementation is to include dietary fats in the TMR. You need to ensure the product added is a highly digestible blend of essential fatty acids and C16 fats, combined with glycerol to increase energy utilisation. Fed at 300 -750g/cow/day, UFAC Buta-Cup Extra, Orbit and Omega Cream are proven to supply the essential fatty acids required to support higher butterfats and complement the rest of the diet. Being rumen –inert they help reduce the risk of acidosis and will not compromise the digestion of the rest of the diet. By paying close attention to the total diet it should be possible for many farmers to improve milk prices and margins this summer by pursuing a strategy of improving butterfat percent. But it will be essential to monitor performance, costs and returns hawkishly to make sure that you are making a worthwhile return.
Glycerene can unlock summer performance
Adding glycerene, a rumeninert source of glycerol, to diets could help improve performance this summer as UFAC’s Mark Townsend explains.
“Energy nutrition is central to efficient milk production,” Mr Townsend comments. “For a cow to make the best use of the diet, turning feed into high quality milk she requires energy fed in the right forms. She then needs to digest the diet, absorb the nutrients in the intestine and then metabolise them in the liver in particular. “It’s a complicated process and can go wrong in several ways. Acidosis is a great example as it reduces the efficiency with which the diet is digested in the rumen leading to reduced energy being available for use. Feeding glycerene can help improve the efficiency of energy metabolism in two specific ways.”
Glucose is vital for milk production. The cow requires a good supply of glucogenic nutrients which can be converted into glucose by the liver. Glucose is required to for the production of milk lactose to maximise yield. Mr Townsend explains that glycerene is an efficient precursor of glucose and is directly utilised by the liver so helping to increase glucose production.
All nutrients passing out of the rumen have to be absorbed in the small intestine and fats and oils are no different. Fats and oils have to be converted into a triglyceride before they can be absorbed and transported and glycerol is required for this to happen. Being rumen-inert, glycerene is the most effective source of glycerol you can feed to make the full use of the fats in the diet. “By improving glucose production and fat utilisation, glycerene helps cows get more energy from the diet and this reduces the energy they need to mobilise from body reserves, so helping maintain condition and reducing the risk of fatty livers. “UFAC glycerene has been carefully formulated to make it rumen inert so it can be added to diets with no risk of acidosis and deliver glycerol to the cow more efficiently than unprotected liquid glycerol supplements. “For many farmers the best option will be to choose a dietary supplement combining highly digestible oils and glycerene such as Omega Cream and Galaxy. Soft oils from vegetable and marine sources are more readily digested that harder oils such as C16 products based on palm oil. The combination of readily digested oils and glycerene can significantly increase the efficiency of fat digestion and utilisation. “With margins under pressure, ensuring cows use the diet really effectively will increase feed efficiency and margins while helping keep cows healthy. Glycerene can play a big part in achieving this,” Mr Townsend predicts.