November 10, 2014 — Our guest on DairyLine Radio today is Dr. David Kirk, Dairy Technology Manager for Prince Agri Products. Dave, as this year’s harvest wraps up and we approach the end of the season, what steps can dairy producers take to plan for a profitable 2015?
David Kirk: At this point, we’re getting past some of the key challenges that can negatively impact dairy cow health and production during the year – such as summer heat stress and sudden ration changes.
Right now, producers can begin focusing on other key issues – for example, as they complete their new forage analysis, their nutrition consultant can dial in the dry, transition and lactating cow rations to optimize production while maintaining health status.
Current dairy modeling software allows nutritionists to develop precise diets that take full advantage of all available forage and feed products. Quality issues can also be assessed during this time allowing for better overall decisions on final diet composition.
With good planning, changes made now will provide positive benefits to the herd and to the bottom line for months to come. This is particularly important as we approach 2015 with an expectation of lower milk prices.
DairyLine: From a nutritional standpoint, what strategy do you recommend?
David Kirk: When milk prices start to decline, it’s generally a good idea to examine the feed programs to see if there are opportunities to lower cost without compromising nutrition and production. In a down milk price environment, there may be a temptation to cut corners to help preserve profits.
But when it comes to nutrition management, taking shortcuts is not always in a producer’s best interests, given the direct well-documented link between good nutrition and dairy cow health and production. Over the long-term, maintaining a proper feeding strategy is critical in optimizing an overall plan to optimize profit. A proper feeding strategy may include:
- A comprehensive plan to grow or purchase the correct types and amounts of forages, grains, and other crops, as well as commodities depending on land resources, or sources available for purchase.
- It should also include frequent communication and planning between the dairy producer and his nutrition consultant to optimize the diets for productivity, health, and profit.
- Also, producers should pay close attention to the day-to-day details to accurately mix and deliver all rations to all cows.
Any savings from short-term cutbacks may be offset by reduced milk production and, in many cases, we see issues with reduced reproductive efficiency and other herd health related issues as well. The impact from these types of decisions may cause problems that ultimately cost more to solve than the initial savings provided.
DairyLine: For our listeners who may not be familiar with Prince’s nutritional specialty product, OmniGen-AF, what role does it play in supporting herd health and productivity?
David Kirk: Dairy cows face many sources of stress year-round, both expected and unexpected, that can weaken their immune system, leaving them more susceptible to health issues. OmniGen-AF is recommended to be fed to all dry, pre-fresh and lactating cows to help support normal immune function.
Research has demonstrated that continual use of this product may help result in fewer health events, a lower somatic cell count and fewer cases of profit-robbing diseases and infections, such as mastitis and metritis. This, in turn, may lead to higher milk production and fewer unplanned culls.
DairyLine: We’ve been speaking with Dr. David Kirk, Dairy Technology Manager with Prince Agri Products. Thanks, Dave.
David Kirk: Thank you.