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Hitting butterfat target aids milk price

Published 26 November 2015 Back to News
Achieving and maintaining butterfat levels is a key concern for Paul Newland, who manages a herd of 185 high yielding cows at Bromham House Farm near Chippenham.

Hitting butterfat target aids milk price

Achieving and maintaining butterfat levels is a key concern for Paul Newland, who manages a herd of 185 high yielding cows at Bromham House Farm near Chippenham.

The all year round calving herd averages 9,500 litres with milk sold on a liquid contract to Freshways. “To make the most of the available milk price we need to be producing 3.8% butterfat which has sometimes been a challenge,” Paul explains. “We have never bred for butterfats and so need to pay close attention to the diet.”

Being on sandy soils, grazing plays a significant role on the farm with cows typically grazing from early March until late October. They are buffer fed at grazing and TMR fed in the winter with dairy compound fed in the parlour.

The TMR comprises 70% maize silage, 30% grass silage with a blend and minerals. The blend currently contains soya, rape, maize distillers, maize and soya hulls.
The buffer feed incorporates a higher proportion of maize, with the blend tailored to complement a grazed grass system.

Paul has been working with nutritionist Rob Mintern for around a year and they appear to have got on top of the butterfat issue. Over the last winter they had fed C16 fats with minimal impact on butterfat percentage.

“This spring we added 0.5kg hay and 0.5kg straw to the diet to push up fibre levels,” Rob Mintern explains. “The result was that both milk yields and butterfats improved with cows averaging 32 litres at 3.8% fat.

Maize starch degradability

“As fats were above the threshold, and as milk price had fallen back, the decision was taken to remove the C16 fat to try and reduce costs, and to reduce the hay and straw content. At the same time a new maize silage pit was opened up and butterfats fell.

“Clearly there were a lot of changes to the diet,” Rob Mintern continues. “With maize that had been in the clamp for a while, starch degradability might have been higher which could leave cows prone to acidosis but there were none of the typical symptoms.

“To try and get the rumen functioning well and to increase butterfats again, sugar beet was added to the summer blend and we added 0.25kg/cow/day of UFAC Glyco-Buf.”

Glyco-Buf is a calcium-glycerol product developed to maintain optimum rumen health and fibre digestion. It also supplies glucose direct to the liver, allowing an increase in glucogenic energy supply without compromising rumen efficiency.

Effective fats pay

“Within 10 days of making the changes butterfats had risen to above 3.8% again meaning we were getting the best milk price we could,” Paul Newland explains. “Cow fertility and health have been good and they are milking well. Because we have got the rumen working well, we have been able to cut the C16 fat out again with no impact on fat percent.”

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