‘Feeding cows silage at night means less cows calve at night’

Restricting dairy cows access to grass silage during the day has been proven to reduce the number of cows calving at night time, according to Teagasc’s David Gleeson.

According to Gleeson, only allowing cows access to silage between the hours of half eight at night to half ten in the morning will cause a 9% increase in the number of cows calving during the day.

The Research Technician will present research findings at Teagasc’s upcoming National Dairy Conference, in Kilkenny on December 8.

Farmers are asked to register for this year’s conference to ensure they can be accommodate for the new format of ‘breakout’ sessions with practical advice.

Gleeson added that applying this on-farm restriction will also cause an increase in the number of cows calving during the day. This will be beneficial from a labour point of view, he said.

“Restricting silage feeding time to between half eight in the evening and half ten in the morning resulted in 9% fewer calvings at night compared with unrestricted silage access.

15% of cows calved by night and 85% by day when silage feeding time was restricted and 24% calved by night and 76% by day when cows had continuous access to silage, he said.

Gleeson added that he will further discuss how farmers can save a significant amount of time by feeding their calves once a day without having a negative impact on animal performance.

According to Gleeson, this should be considered by farmers aiming for a six-week calving period as it will allow for major labour savings during the labour intensive spring period.

This system can save on labour during the busy spring period without impacting on the performance of the calves.

“Once-a-day feeding of calves is also labour saving, calves can be put on once-a-day feeding from two weeks of age.

“At nine-10 weeks, there is no difference in the performance of the calves compared to the calves that were fed twice daily.”

He added that the feeding does not have to carried out after milking which allows farmers to focus on their cows in the parlour rather than worrying about feeding calves.


New Breakout Sessions For This Year’s Dairy Conference

The format of this year’s Teagasc National Dairy Conference has been changed to benefit farmers, according to Teagasc’s Tom O’Dwyer.

According to O’Dwyer, the change will allow farmers to attend sessions that are relative to their own farming business. The new structure will also give farmers the opportunity to ask more questions.

Previously farmers had to sit through all of the papers at the conference, but now they can focus on topics that may be of interest to their own farming business.

“This move will allow more individual farmers the opportunity to ask questions that are relative to their farm business.”

The changes to the event include the formation of seven breakout sessions which will discuss a range of topics relevant to dairy farmers and each session will be repeated three times daily.

There will be seven breakout session carried out each day which will be repeated three times throughout the day. Farmers attending have the opportunity to attend three of these sessions.

Teagasc is urging farmers to register for this upcoming conference to ensure they reserve a place at the breakout sessions relative to their business.