So Many Mouths to Feed
With the late, wet spring leading to late planting, or areas not being planted at all, along with an overall wet year to date has led to some places having subpar harvest yields compared to other years. This has led to farms feeding up bumper feeds or simply running out of feed at times all together and having to purchase feed to keep animals fed. While fall harvests of corn silage, beans, and corn have not yet begun, the weather certainly leads one to wonder will those yields continue to be a little less than normal.
If you have a nutritionist that you work with closely, you should be having the conversation already to get an idea of what yields may be for your farm and how much acreage should be put up as silage, high moisture grain, etc to get you through the next year. They can also help you find alternative feed sources to fill in the gaps and hopefully extend some of your feed stores if needed. If you don’t currently work with a nutritionist, there are several good ones in the area and they are a valuable resource to the health and production of your animals.
One potential way that would help to stretch your feed stores through the next year is to reduce your animal inventories. We are all aware of the higher feed costs and lower milk prices that have been all too common in the past several years. To help ease the worry of not enough feed is to reduce overstocking in your milking herd closer to 100% stocking. Ideally, you should be stocked to no more than 100% of your manger/headlock space. In three row freestall barns this would leave ample resting space and lower competition for feed, water, and rest. When cows are able to eat when and as much as they need and most importantly rest, studies have shown that this positively affects milk production and reproduction and lowers stress which lowers lameness and mastitis risks.
One area that is crucial to not be overstocked is in the transition pen. Those cows have just gone through a large stressor having given birth along with a number of hormonal changes and now starting to ramp up milk production. By not overstocking and stressing these cows that are transitioning back into the lactating herd this allows them to reach maximum milk production potential and reduces the likelihood of them developing a fresh cow illness. When these cows get off to a good start, it allows them to produce more milk without requiring a lot more feed which should translate into more profit.
Another area that we can look to reduce the number of animals is in replacement heifers. For years, we have been ingrained with the notion that we need to raise every heifer born on the farm to freshen into the lactating herd. As we have become better at improving calf health by minimizing sickness and, most importantly, death loss and maximizing growth and development we are now able to raise closer to 100% of the heifers born alive on farm to reach the milking herd. We have also done a better job at reducing the number of culls and death loss in the milking herd at the same time. This is leading to an overabundance of replacement heifers being raised. With these improvements in animal health and lowered culling rates and losses, we can now be pickier in which heifers we raise and what animals are being bred, and what they are bred to.
Genomic testing is another tool that can potentially help you choose which animals to keep in your herd. By testing heifers at a young age, you identify those genetics that you’d like to keep in your herd. For those animals whose genetics don’t meet your standards, they can either be bred to beef semen or simply culled at a young age saving you the expense of raising them. A Dairy Cattle Genomics Workshop is taking place on October 1 in Madison for anyone that is interested in learning more about how genomic testing can help your herd. To register go to https://osu.az1/qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8k7msCrLogxkfjf. Talk to your herd health veterinarian or any of the doctors at RVVC to discuss ways to reduce or control your herd size if future feed stores are a concern.
Saying Goodbye to Dawn
It is with great sadness that we have to say goodbye to Dawn. Dawn has taken a job with the UW Veterinary Clinics in Madison and will starting there later this month. Her last day at River Valley Veterinary Clinic will be September 6. Many of you have gotten to know Dawn when you have called into the clinic to schedule an appointment or when you have come in to pick up medicine for your animals. Dawn has been an excellent employee with RVVC over the years and we want to thank her for all of her hard work and dedication to the clinic and clients during her time here. Though we’ll be sad to see her leave, we wish her the very best in the next chapter of her career. Be sure to call or stop in and say goodbye before her last day.
Check Out Our MyPharmStore Online Pharmacy!
Don’t forget that you can now order prescription medications and other non-prescription supplies on our online store. Go to River Valley Veterinary Clinic’s website and click on the MyPharmStore tab and order today. It only requires a credit or debit card to purchase and we are competitively priced against other online stores. Plus, all of your orders go directly through River Valley so there is no need to send a prescription off to a company that doesn’t know you or your animals. If you have questions need help placing an order, or can’t find a particular item please call the clinic and we’ll be happy to help you.
Banamine Transdermal Is Available At RVVC
Merck has released a topically applied Banamine for beef animals and dairy animals less than 20 months of age. It is easily applied by pouring over the top line similar to that of pour-on deworming products. With one dose it goes to work quickly reducing fever due to bovine respiratory disease and alleviating pain caused by issues of foot rot. Talk to one of the doctors at RVVC to find out more about how it works and how and when to apply it.