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Selko | Dairy Performance

Programme for Sustainable Dairy Farming

Simply improving transition management will not always be sufficient to make a farm profitable

Transition management has a great impact on Lifetime Daily Yield, but more is needed.

The amount of milk a cow produces per day of life, otherwise known as the Lifetime Daily Yield (LDY) is the most commonly used parameter to measure performance of dairy farms1,2. In most countries, a farm starts to become profitable if LDY is above 15 kg/milk/cow/day86.

Transition management has a great impact on LDY, but simply improving transition management will not always be sufficient to make a farm profitable.

Calculate your profit!

See how sustainable dairy farming will result in more profitability of your farm

In contrast to common belief, it is very well possible to run a farm in a sustainable way while generating a healthy income.

Calculate your profit by influencing the 4 key indicators that help improve the Lifetime Daily Yield on your farm.

The first 30-60 days in lactation are the most critical for dairy performance

Firstly, good transition management should not only aim at increasing the amount of milk produced. Measures to improve rumen function and fermentation should result in a maximum amount of milk fat produced, whereas measures to increase energy supply to the udder should result in a maximum amount of milk protein produced.

The most critical phase for both aforementioned parameters are the first 30-60 days in lactation. Diet, feed management, barn management, management of health and the correct use of supplements in the period before and immediately after calving should ensure the optimal amount of energy corrected milk is being produced.

Maximising silage palatability while avoiding loss of nutritional value

Beyond 30-60 days into lactation, the most important factor to influence performance of dairy cows is quality of the roughage fed. In case of grass silage, haylage or corn silage, quality can be influenced at harvesting but also at feeding when TMR is being prepared.

Ensuring milk quality meets ever increasing standards

Milk quality is increasingly becoming important. Traditionally, somatic cell count has been a very common quality parameter, with a potential negative impact on milk price if too high.

More recently, the potential presence of aflatoxins has become an issue. Incorrect preservation of silage can result in exposure of dairy cows to mycotoxins. Some of these mycotoxins cause problems in cows after exposure. Cows are relatively resistant to the effects of aflatoxins. Exposure of humans to aflatoxins can however cause health issues. The EU has stricter regulations than the US regarding allowable aflatoxin concentrations in milk for human consumption. According to EU legislation, aflatoxin level in milk must be below 50 ng/kg in milk, whereas 500 ng/kg is acceptable for the US authorities84.

Lastly, concerns about a possible correlation between Johne’s disease in dairy cows and Crohn’s disease in humans have resulted in increased concerns about contamination of milk with Mycobacterium para-tuberculosis (MAP)85.

More about dairy performance:

Learn more about increasing milk solids in dairy cows