The nutrition of the spring-calving dairy cow during the upcoming breeding season is absolutely critical for milk production in this lactation, but also to ensure the success of future lactations.

The recent cold weather and large levels of snow will have a significant impact on grass production this spring. So, it is imperative to feed the right amount of the right concentrate in the coming weeks.

There is a lot of choice when it comes to rations and nuts for the dairy cow. But are all dairy compounds created equal? Not necessarily.

Up to a few years ago, dairy farmers used to base their buying decisions when it came to their dairy feed on three factors:

• Relationship(s) with supplier(s);
• Protein percentage;
• Price

This is no longer the case, as more and more dairy farmers are asking about the UFL value of the dairy nuts they are ordering.

The UFL value is essentially the energy content of the ration/nut, with 1kg of air-dried barley having a UFL value of 1.0. The UFL value of the dairy feed is important, as it is linked directly to milk production.

Remember: 0.43UFL = 1L of milk.

Although the focus on the UFL value of the dairy feed is important and a positive step for the feed industry, it is important to understand that some ingredients have a much lower UFL value than others. See Table 1:

Table 1

The problem with these lower-energy ingredients is that it is almost impossible to produce a dairy nut that is above 0.92UFL.

By using these ingredients, we are compromising on the nutrition of the dairy cow and ultimately profit; even if these ingredients are at the bottom of the ingredients list, they still have an effect on the overall UFL of the dairy ration/nut.

## Achieving an extra €3,900 for a 100-cow dairy herd

If we look at a specific case of a 100-cow dairy herd producing 500,000L of milk per annum, it is easy to see the difference between feeding a 0.92UFL dairy ration versus a 0.96UFL dairy ration can have on farm profit. The cost of the two dairy nuts is the same at €270/t. See Table 2 below:

Table 2. Calculations: total UFL supply = feeding rate multiplied by UFL/Kg; difference = total from compound A minus total from compound B; extra milk per head per day = difference divided by 0.43 (amount needed to produce 1L of Milk); total extra milk per day = extra milk per head multiplied by 100 (100-cow dairy herd); total extra milk per lactation = extra milk per day multiplied by 300 (300-day lactation); and extra income generated = total extra milk multiplied by milk price (35c/L including VAT).

As shown in Table 2 above, it is relatively easy to achieve an extra €3,900 from a 100-cow herd during a single lactation by feeding a higher-quality feed and maximising milk production.

If compound A was €10/t more expensive than compound B, it would still give a positive return on investment during the lactation.

A cost of €10/t extra equals €0.04/head at a 4kg/head feeding rate. The return on investment (ROI) is an extra 0.372L of milk, which equals an extra €0.13/head/day at 35c/L.

Therefore, this is a positive ROI of €0.09/cow/day, which is the equivalent to an extra €2,700 generated income for a 100-cow herd during lactation.

## Supreme Spring Breeder

Quinns of Baltinglass recently commissioned a new animal feed pelleting plant in Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow, and is using only high-quality, high-energy ingredients across its entire range of dairy, beef and sheep pellets with no “fillers” included.

The dairy compounds being sold by the company were formulated by the company’s nutritionist and are formulated with the dairy cow in mind to maximise efficient production. Below is the the spec of its Supreme Spring Breeder.

Quinns Supreme Spring Breeder is very high energy (0.96UFL), contains more than 50% cereal content and is manufactured from all high-quality ingredients – no wheatfeed, palm kernel or sunflower are included. It also includes the Rumi Pro Mineral Package – Rumi Pro Summer.

Key benefits:
• Reduces urea levels in milk – an ammonia grabber is included;
• Increased fertility – protected selenium and copper are included;
• Reduction in lameness – protected zinc and biotin are included;
• Improved herd health – high inclusion of vitamin E and protected copper.

The recommended feeding rate of Supreme Spring Breeder is 4kg/cow/day.

Quinns of Baltinglass has also recently installed an NIR machine on-site in its Baltinglass head office. With this, the company can now test on-farm forages – such as maize and grass silage – and provide nutrition advice based on the results.

Quinns has a dedicated company nutritionist and 10 technical sales advisors to provide year-round technical advice.