Dairy farmer sees Panatec additive as ‘big influence’ on his cows’ well-being
A dairy farmer has calved 85% of his herd in six weeks after a feed additive included in the ration resulted in cows showing stronger, more obvious signs of oestrus.
Gerard Killoran milks 70 Friesians on a spring-calving system at Bunnanadden, Co. Sligo.
A focus of his block-calving system is to achieve a high rate of conceptions in the first six weeks of breeding.
Gerard had relied on tail paints and other heat detection aids before introducing Panatec Rumen Proof, a residue-free feed additive manufactured by Mayo Healthcare, which acts as a rumen enhancer for greater performance and improved energy in the rumen.
Cows now show such strong signs of heat that heat detection aids are no longer used. “There are very obvious signs of bulling activity,’’ said Gerard.
Fertility is so good that he no longer runs a stock bull with the herd to sweep up after AI, a major cost saving.
Gerard has been astounded by this year’s six-week calving rate, given spring 2018’s challenging weather conditions. “It was a tough year for the cows but fertility hasn’t faltered,’’ he said.
Thanks to the concentrated calving period, milk yield in March has almost doubled.
Panatec Rumen Proof helps to protect against ruminal acidosis, an underlying health condition which Gerard says had been taking its toll on herd health.
We had been getting problems in the spring with acidosis. I think it is an underlying problem in a lot of herds that isn’t really recognised but it has a huge impact on cow performance overall – not just fertility.
Gerard is convinced that Panatec Rumen Proof is a factor in the herd’s exceptionally low somatic cell count – averaging 79,000 cells/ml over the last 12 months but currently under 30,000.
“If the cow is healthy her cell counts will be low,’’ he reckons.
Gerard adds Panatec Rumen Proof to the meal fed to cows in the parlour.
Its effectiveness is visible, he says. “Last year, I stopped using it for four to six weeks but their coats lost their shine, their condition wasn’t as good. If their stomachs aren’t right, nothing is right. I now use Panatec Rumen Proof 12 months of the year.’’
Gerard admits it is a daily expense but adds: “I honestly think it pays for itself, it has a big influence on the well-being of the cows.’’