All Blacks role model for cow nutrition

Beneath the surface
with David Law
Forward Farming

To complete the skills needed for our consultancy we have encouraged participation from specialists in specific fields. Mark Dixon focuses on feed balancing and making the best of the choices of feed available. I have invited him to share his thoughts in this column.

To maximise genetic potential in dairy cows, having a solid game plan is crucial. The game plan needs to begin at least 21 days before calving.

Considering the farming season as a world cup rugby test match, history has taught us that winning that game requires more than an 80-minute performance. This is no different to ruminant dairy nutrition. Our transition period is our vital warm-up; without a good transition plan we can’t expect our cows to perform to their potential. A strong start sets the platform for a winning season.

As far as purchasing genetic potential goes, most farmers are buying the Ritchie McCaws for performance. I haven’t met a farmer yet that has not been extremely proud of the genetics in their herd, but when it comes to formulating a plan around unlocking the genetic potential the conversation always comes back to cents/kg/dm, or residuals.

Unlocking genetic potential

I am sure the All Blacks nutritionists don’t go and buy the cheapest nutrition on the market and monitor the residuals on the plate or bowl as a gauge of profitability and performance.

Unlocking your cow’s genetic potential requires planning and preparation around nutrition. Your cows are looking for this every day when you pull the feed cord in the shed, the bat latch drops to the feed pad or they make it to the paddock that you have chosen for their daily nutritional requirements.

Despite what you may have been told, pasture is not a complete diet but luckily it doesn’t take much to balance some of the shortfalls that limit production and health.

After experiencing one of the wettest springs in history this year, one would say the first half has been challenging and your cows may not have hit their peak. Don’t give up.

Half-time discussion

Holding cows at a reasonable production level once in-calf for most of the second half can make up for them not peaking where you would have liked. How many times have we seen the All Blacks come from behind and win?

To do this we need to head to the changing sheds, have a rock-solid half-time discussion and formulate a total farm system approach to ensuring your cows have everything they need to come through the second half of the season on top and be profitable.

The All Blacks have never won a test match at half-time. It’s a game of two halves. If you want help formulating a successful game plan then please give us a call. Mark Dixon 027 546 2900.


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