Feeding your herd
Many dairy farms are dealing with a shortage of pasture and home-grown conserved forages and are considering what feeds they should buy to continue to milk their herds through periods of low growth.
Key points to consider with feeding
- Create a sound monthly milk income and feed budget to guide your decisions
- Buy feeds based on quality and value
- Convert feed into milk efficiently, minimising waste
- Manage pasture according to best management principles.
In planning your feeding program, the first thing to determine is which cows are likely to return a profit in the future and which ones are not, and whether your herd size can be reduced.
The three main aims then should be
- Design and feed milkers diets that generate the best possible return on investment (thereby limiting impact on cash flow)
- Protect your farm’s longer term productivity by maintaining good cow body condition and health
- Protect long term productivity of pastures, enabling them to bounce back quickly when conditions eventually improve.
While every farm situation is unique, this fact sheet is designed to highlight points you should consider when planning your feeding program and weighing up specific options.