Ensuring that cows are getting adequate amounts of dry matter (DM) and energy is now a challenge on many farms.

Supplies of high quality silage on the majority of farms are now running low, and access to grass has also been limited.

The challenging weather means that grass in many cows diets has been low or non-existent, depending on the situation.

With the breeding season fast approaching, it is important that cows are in good condition and fertility is not affected by the poor weather.


Getting cows to grass should be a focus on farms, even if this is only for short periods of time, according to Alan Hurst, technical and product manager at Lakeland Dairies.

“For early lactation cows, it’s all about energy supply and intake. There’s no substitute for high quality spring grass, so farmers need to do all they can to get some grass into the diet.

“We advise farmers to walk the farm regularly to assess the ground conditions in different areas of the farm.

“Despite the painful weather, there will be a drier paddock or two on many farms, and spur roadways should be used to access them,” Hurst said.

He said that during the challenging conditions, on/off grazing should be used, even if it is only for three to four hours a day.

This will help set the grazing platform for the year ahead and increase energy density of the cows’ diet.

Hurst said that this will also help with production costs, with grass being the cheapest feed available.


To ensure that energy requirement of cows are being met, Hurst noted the importance of feeding a suitable dairy ration at the correct feed level.

“The required feeding level of concentrate will be determined by the level of grass DM level of silage dry matter intake and the production level of the animal,” he said.

He said that it is also important to keep an eye of milk composition, compared to this time last year.

“Lower than normal milk protein and high milk urea’s in early lactation are indicating a significant energy deficit in diets.

“The energy supply in the diet will need to be adjusted or the breeding season will suffer before it even starts.

“For farms starting to run tight on forage, it is critical to take action to stretch what you have,” he explained.

Dairy cows require six UFL (net energy value) to maintain themselves and approximately 0.47 UFL/kg of milk.

Which means a cow producing 28L will need 13 UFLs for the milk and six UFL’s for herself – which equals 19 UFLs.

It is vital that you know the energy requirements of your herd and that they are being met.

Hurst added that Lakeland Dairies has a specific fodder stretcher blend that can be fed through diet feeder or over the silage as a midday feed if required.