Skip to main content

Bridging the Late Lactation Gap

Cows at feed face


Maintaining milk yield is of the utmost importance as we head into late lactation. Losing milk yield at this time of the year is not alone a loss of income but may also be a sign that cows are not being fed properly.

With a milk price of over 60c/l and more for higher solids, we need to make sure yield is not dropping faster that we would like it to. Looking after the intake of the animal at this time of year will mean everything else should look after itself. Work carried out in UCD Lyons Estate has shown that cows that are supplemented in late lactation (versus pasture only) had better milk production, body condition and are more feed efficient.

Body condition is also a vital pillar of any production system and for cows in late lactation now is the time to place them in their calving condition of 3-3.25. Cows are more efficient at putting on body condition now and the added supplement will also generate a return as opposed to in the dry period.

Beyond the basic requirement of approximately 0.11kg of concentrate per kilo of milk for cows out on pasture full time or 0.22kg of concentrate per kilo of milk with cows in by night, then cows will need a forage added to the diet. For example, a cow still producing 15kg of milk will be on 3-4kg of concentrate and beyond this will require some forage to satisfy dry matter intake.

The use of buffer or supplementary feeding at this time of year is just as important as it is in springtime and early lactation. At KEENAN we have seen several key benefits when it comes to buffer feeding.

  • Because all feed cost has increased, the use of home-grown forage in conjunction with concentrate can supply a cost-effective supplement
  • A forage-based supplement is more in keeping with the rumen health of the animal
  • Feed wastage is a major loss of efficiency and major driver of cost on farm. The measurement and weighing of what the cow requires through the KEENAN controller is a key attribute
  • Precision mixing through the KEENAN means that every cow gets exactly what has been prescribed is another key feature. Consistency of diet means consistency of milk production.