Reducing the Energy Gap

Getting your cows and heifers out of negative energy balance sooner and getting them gaining weight earlier is the key to improved conception rates. A large-scale study of over 1887 Holstein dairy cows by Professor Paul Fricke of Wisconsin University, looked at the effect changes in liveweight on conception rate to first service. The cows on the trial were either losing weight, exhibiting no weight change or gaining weight. The study was a clear demonstration of the profound effect of weight changes in early lactation on conception rates in both cows and heifers (figure 1).

Table 1Reducing the Energy Gap

Of course, we all know that getting the cows into the correct BCS prior to drying off, along with effective dry and transition cow management are key. But, just as important, is increasing energy intake in early postpartum in order to reduce the negative energy trough and reduce the magnitude of weight loss.

Reducing the Energy Gap

Traditionally, producers have adopted a feed curve that introduces concentrates on the partial TMR system gradually during early lactation. The sole purpose of this approach was to reduce the incidence of digestive upsets such as acidosis and displaced abomasum’s. However, a revolution in early postpartum nutrition is unfolding, with the introduction of Wynnstay’s HQS optimiser dairy compound.

Due to its unique formulation based on balancing high glucogenic raw materials with slow pool fibre, feeding levels can be ramped up earlier and will safely balance the partial TMR portion of the diet. The freshly calved cow will have a DMI marginally above its DMI during transition, and this will increase steadily up to a peak towards the end of the first trimester of lactation. The lag time between energy requirements and energy intake is the reason for excessive weight loss (Figure 2). The opportunity to feed more compound early on is unique to the HQS Optimiser formulation and offers the dairyman an opportunity to reduce the early lactation energy gap and weight loss and improve reproductive performance.

Dr Huw McConochieDr. Huw McConochie
Head of Dairy Technical Services
m: 07771 740857

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