Failing to adequately support yields and body condition as grass intakes drop through late summer could cut yields by 1.9litres/cow for the first three months of winter, according to a senior nutritionist.

Dr Anna Sutcliffe of KW Alternative Feeds says that the potential cost of regaining 0.5 BCS (body condition score) once cows are fully housed, and at 26ppl represents a loss of around £8900 for a typical 200-cow herd.

“Yet providing the additional energy needed for those cows to retain that condition through the summer can cost as little as £2500.”

As grass dry matter intake (DMI) drops with falling daylight hours, Dr Sutcliffe therefore recommends splitting the herd. Make cows over 150 days in milk work harder to utilise grazed grass and dry off at no more than BCS 3.0, but increase buffer feed intakes for early lactation cows, she said.

“Moist feeds and liquid feeds are ideal to help drive intakes, and if necessary house cows overnight. Include sugar beet feed or soya hulls to support good rumen function, and for starch consider rumen-friendly options such as sodawheat or a confectionery blend. To help minimise feed costs, switch from soyabean meal to heat-treated rapeseed expeller," said Dr Sutcliffe.