Dangers of ‘addiction to feed’ in dairy farming

Speaking last week at the Virginia Show Dairy Gathering Conference, Joe Patton from Teagasc gave a presentation on Feeding and Nutrition for Modern Dairy Farming Systems.

Patton spoke out against increasing milk produced per cow when the milk quotas are abolished in 2015, calling it a “dangerous road” and not in relation to milk profit per litre; instead that producing milk from resources such as grass instead of feed drives profitability.

He also stressed the importance of farmers treating grass in the spring and the autumn to ensure it is not reduced drastically in the winter. Patton spoke of high-cost farmers having an “addiction” to feed which low-cost farmers are avoiding by treating their grass properly in spring and autumn.

On the subject of recycling cows and using extended lactation, Patton said this affects fertility of cows, with studies showing they can take one year longer to reach fourth lactation and a lower milk yield. He spoke of the importance of high fertility genetics and using using the EBI (Economic Breeding Index) for dairy farming.

On the subject of nutrition Patton spoke of the importance of energy in a cow’s diet over protein, which can be acquired from grass. He also spoke of the importance of fibre, the breakdown of the cows diet and sensible supplementation.

Patton said that growing more grass of high quality will lead to a large decrease in required imported silage, leading to a lower budget for farmers and a better yield of milk.

The presentation on dairy farming in full can be seen here.

Full report on AgriLand TV, courtesy Ramor Videos

Photo O’Gorman Photography

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