Steps to improve milk solids


Peak milk has passed and is on average behind previous years, it remains important to maintain peak that was achieved and manage the decline going forward. Actions taken now will impact late lactation performance. Energy nutrition is one of the key drivers for sustaining milk yield after peak. As grass makes up the majority of the diet, grass quality will influence energy intake and milk solids production for the remaining lactation.

Milk protein percentage on average remains static for the summer months rather than steadily increasing. This is mainly due to delayed reactions to increased growth and grass heading out. Seed heads have appeared and need to be dealt with to ensure milk yield declines no greater than 2.5 % per week. If not corrected it will lead to poor graze outs having a knock-on effect on subsequent rotations and milk performance. Not only is important for milk fat and protein percentages to be continuously improving post peak but also limiting milk yield decline to carry these constituents for greater overall milk solids performance.

Tips to manage milk decline and maintaining protein percentage increase

  • Target covers of 1200- 1400 kg DM/ha
  • Above or below the target pre-grazing cover will restrict intakes, animal performance and regrowth
  • Top or take out paddocks where necessary to correct grass quality due to poor grazing conditions during the Spring
  • Graze to 4cm ensures paddocks are cleaned out but not being pinched on intake
  • Ensure cows are fed to requirements is crucial
  • Supplement with concentrates to fill the energy gap limited by dry matter intake.
  • If the tank drops in the region of 1 litre per kg of meal fed to cows, then cows were not getting enough of the high-quality grass or both
  • If no option but to graze less-than-ideal covers then supplementation will be required to maintain production. Due to the reduction in intakes and feeding value of strong covers response to concentrates will be higher than that of higher quality grass.

As growth rates have increased above demand on a lot of farms and grass begins to head out, keeping high-quality grass in front of cows will be vital to secure milk solids production. Remove heavy covers as surplus bales as soon as possible to allow high-quality grass to return quickly into the rotation. PastureBase figures show that pre-grazing covers exceed 1600 kg DM which is too high. Weather to turn gradually drier as the week progresses. On poorer draining soils this may be a challenge with the recent rain in areas.

Increase grass allocations & supplementation when rain is forecasted

Impact of Grass DM

  • 90 kg grass @ 20% DM = 18 kg DM @ 1.0 ufl    = 27 litres
  • 90 kg grass @ 15% DM = 13.5 kg DM     @ 1.0 ufl     = 17 litres
  • 90 kg grass @ 12% DM = 10.8 kg DM     @ 1.0 ufl     = 11 litres

For every 1% reduction below 18% in grass dry matter, grass intake is reduced by 0.33 kg DM

Example: continuous rain results in a low DM of 12%. That is a reduction in 2 kg DM when dropping from 18% DM equivalent to 4.5 L of milk if not replaced with 2 kg of concentrates.

Buffer feeding with long fiber such as high-quality silage will be necessary during grazing periods of wet lush grass to maintain rumen fill, health, and intake which results in milk performance. 

For more information contact your local Tirlán representative.

First Publishd 28 May 2024

Tagged with: Dairy


See all articles