• Jin Gan

5 Tips To Prepare For Dairy Winter Housing

Plans for winter should ensure every aspect of cow management is geared towards optimizing performance.

Here are some tips when preparing for winter:

1) Cubicle comfort and feed access

  • Look at the cubicle design and feed access to check and see if there are any improvements that can be made prior to housing.

  • If the cows are comfortable, it will lead to less lameness and improved production and better overall health.

  • Target a minimum of 76cm feed space a cow until they are in calf and 63cm once they are in calf.

  • See if the cows are perching with two feet in and two feet out. This could signal that the neck rail is in the wrong place.

  • Improve the trough surfaces by using plastic on the base of trough.

2) Winter diets

  • Look at what forage you have and start planning for winter diets.

  • If you do not plan in time, you could get low quality silage stocks which will affect performance of the cows.

  • Get the silage stocks analyzed and test the fresh grass samples ahead of cutting if harvest had been delayed.

  • If you only managed to get bulky and low quality second cut, energy could be more important in bought-in feed and it may be more practical to give liquid feed to encourage intake and increase energy.

3) Track body condition score

  • Low milk price has caused some farmers to cut back on feed rates, leading to a higher incidence of lower conditioned cows.

  • Assess the herd condition and ask how these cows can be given the best possible start around calving.

  • The main focus should be cow comfort and dry matter intakes.

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