How much grass should I offer freshly-calved cows?
The grazing season will soon be starting on many farms, so to ensure farmers have enough grass to make it to the magic day it is important to ensure cows’ dry matter (DM) intake is controlled.
Cows calving onto a grass-based diet will eat a total DM intake of 8-10kg (grass + concentrates) per day in week one after calving.
A cow will reach her highest daily milk output six-to-eight weeks after calving, with peak DM intake two-to-four weeks behind. The cow will use energy from her fat reserves ‘milking off her back’ to make up the energy deficit for several weeks.
However, if the cow loses too much body condition in early lactation, it can reduce her chances of getting back in calf again.
In spring, the aim is that the cow should graze a high amount of quality grass with appropriate supplementation. When less than 8kg of grass dry matter per cow is available, the deficit should be made up with a forage, as well as concentrate.
This will ensure the cow is getting enough fibre. Stop feeding silage when enough fresh grass is available.
1. Excessive body weight loss;
2. Low milk yields;
3. Low milk solids;
4. Poor fertility;
5. Metabolic diseases.