Early Lactation Nutrition

Early Lactation Nutrition

Farm Conversation Series

Some NEB & BCS loss after calving is inevitable as maximum energy output through milk occurs before max DMI is reached.

Minimising this NEB will lead to higher milk solids, reduce BCS loss and enhance fertility performance.

At one-week, post-calving intakes are 65% of max DMI. Feed intakes should peak at 9-13 weeks post-calving.

Therefore, every kg of DM during this period must be energy-dense to encourage intakes and minimise NEB.

There is no questioning that post-calving nutrition is the most significant factor when it comes to herd fertility! Undoubtedly, breeding management, disease outbreak, lameness and mineral deficiencies can affect fertility, but the foundation of your herd fertility is laid through nutrition.

At grass, we strive to maximise intakes. However, it is important not to overestimate the DMI a cow has from grazed grass as fertility and performance can be compromised.

Data from Grass Watch shows the maximum intake from grass in March is 12 kgDM/hd/day at 20% DM and 15kgDM/hd/day in April at 18.2%DM.

It is also important to understand the DMI requirement for your herd and ensure that any shortfall is in energy intake is bridged when necessary

Again, it is important not to underestimate the DMI needs for your cows!

Cows should be built-up to full-time grazing gradually as it takes approximately three weeks for the rumen to adapt to the dietary change. Use of a good quality yeast is recommended as their mode of action will not only reduce the risk of acidosis but will also help to increase fibre digestion.

Remember, for every 1% reduction in dry grass matter below 18%; grass intake is reduced by 0.33 kgDM. With this data, we must then identify the intake deficit and make up the difference indoors.

Palatable energy-dense feeds are a must in early lactation! Concentrates should contain only quality ingredients like barley, maize and beet pulp. Farmers should also consider the use of protected fats. They are not only energy-dense, but they also bye-pass the rumen, ensuring maximum energy deliver! Note that some fats have been shown to decrease intakes due to their unpalatability!

The diet should not only be balanced for protein and energy but also fibre. When doing so, we must consider the nature of the fibre already present in the diet and balance accordingly.

Would you like to chat?

Specialist Nutrition is an experienced animal feeds company, supplying a comprehensive range of high-quality moist and liquid feeds, nutritional products and advice to progressive dairy, beef and pig farmers.

Specialist nutrition expert Ireland Dairy and Beef nutrition

If you would like a chat about how our highly palatable nutritious animal moist feeds can help you manage costs and herd health


Rachel McCarthy 087 242 1276.