With the continuing low milk prices, it is important to make sure you get as much from your operation as possible. Here are some ways that can help yield more milk production for your herd:
Cow Comfort – Comfortable heifers and cows are happy. Happy animals generally product more milk. In summer, efforts should be made to keep cattle cool. Heat stress can reduce milk production anywhere from 5-20lbs of milk during lactation. Access to water, shade, and moving air can make a significant difference. In winter, provide wind blocks and ample bedding to keep animals warm. Avoid isolating animals, cows are social creatures and can become stressed if their socialization situation changes.
Cow Health – Heifers and cows that are healthy can produce optimum milk levels. Bedding should be changed and cleaned our frequently to keep animals clean and dry. Check hooves to make sure there are no issues. Lameness can account for a 5% drop in production on average. Lame cows move around less, which means possibly less feed, which in turn will provide less milk. Teats should be kept care of and conditioned so there is no cracking or infection.
Forage Quality – Make sure animals have a fresh, well balanced, nutritious TMR for their needs. Feed additives may be considered if forage is lacking in certain areas. Sugar has been known to work well in small amounts in slightly raising milk production; 4-6% of the dietary mix is the best level. Anything more and it can start to have a negative effect on the heifers and cows.
“Finding the Next Five Pounds.” Hoard’s Dairyman
Litherland, Noah. “Top 10 Strategies to Improve Early Lactation.” University of Minnesota Dairy Extension