“Nutrition plays a key role in our reproductive success,” said Brian Brown of SunBurst Dairy near Belleville, Wis. “We work with James Bailey and Dr. Magdalena Kurz of ProAgtive Technologies for our nutrition program. It starts with a far-off diet and a DCAD-balanced prefresh diet using SoyChlor.”
“We routinely sample forages and check urine pH to ensure excellent calcium status at calving,” added son Cory from a farm that won Platinum honors in this year’s Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council’s ninth annual awards competition.
After calving, the cows go into a postfresh group for up to 45 days,” explained Cory’s mother, Yogi. “It’s paramount that these pens are understocked and have over 30 inches of bunk space per cow. The prefresh and postfresh diets are both amino acid balanced. We feel this has helped reproductive performance and reduced metabolic issues during transition,” concluded Brian.
All six of this year’s Platinum winners of the Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council’s awards share additional insight in this Hoard’s Dairyman Intel as well as the Round Table found on pages 708 to 709 of the November issue of Hoard’s Dairyman. This year a record 128 herds were nominated for the award from 18 U.S. states and Canadian provinces.
Here are additional responses to the question, “What role does nutrition play in reproduction?”
Copperhill Farm, Fairfax, Vt.: Our quality forages play a huge part in the foundation to a healthy ration that is energy dense with adequate forage NDF (neutral detergent fiber). We use a DCAD diet in the close-up ration, which helps set up cows for a healthy transition. Postfresh cows transition immediately to high-cow rations in their respective first-lactation group or mature cow group.
The nutritional strategy used to ensure reproductive success has included integrating as much high-quality, digestible forage in rations with a balanced approach of fermentable carbohydrates and high-quality protein sources. The transition challenges we have tried to avoid that have a negative effect on reproduction are milk fever and, more specifically, avoiding subclinical milk fever that often leads to ketosis or other issues that hurt the beginning of their lactation.
Dunlea Dairy Farm, Coudersport, Pa.: Nutrition is key to reproduction. The main transitional challenge we face is to keep dry cows and fresh cows undercrowded. If they are undercrowded and comfortable, these cows will eat well and transition well on most any reasonable diet.
Pfeifer Dairy Farm, Bucyrus, Ohio: Healthy cows are the key to good reproduction. We feed a high-forage diet and have found that everything runs more smoothly when the cows are eating well. Our nutritionist, Ben Mercer, also works with Ayers Farms, a Platinum DCRC herd winner from last year. I believe that shows that sound, consistent nutrition is important to good reproduction.
Pine Hollow Dairy, Locke, N.Y.: Of course, balanced and properly delivered diets are essential to transition cow success, which translates to good performance. We have two nutritionists who have worked with us for many years. One does the dry cow program and sells us the grain to balance that diet. The other nutritionist designs the lactating and heifer diets. Grain for lactating is provided by a local feed mill. We do not utilize a lot of additives. We are pretty cost-conscious and believe in the basics of forage quality, excellent bunk management, and the use of consistent, quality ingredients.
Seidl Mountain View Dairy, Luxemburg, Wis.: Nutrition is very important. Quality feed, cow comfort, and ventilation are all needed for reproductive success.
This Hoard’s Dairyman Intel article is part of an eight-part series detailing top reproduction tips from the Platinum-winning herds for the ninth annual Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council awards competition.
Click here to view previous reports from this DCRC series:
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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2016
November 28, 2016