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Diet may play part in disappointing milk yield

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: December 05, 2013

DAIRY SCENE: Cattle grazing near Filleigh.  Picture: Richard Howe

DAIRY SCENE: Cattle grazing near Filleigh. Picture: Richard Howe

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DAIRY cattle increased their milk production by just a litre each per day on average in September compared with last year, according to the latest figures.

It's considered a disappointment because of the huge improvement in the weather this year, said the head of nutrition for Mole Valley Farmers, Dr Chris Bartram.

He considers that there might have been too many changes too quickly to the cattle diets, affecting consistency and a shortage of maize until October.

"The cows have been out on average two months longer than last year because of the mild autumn. The increase in production was lower than expected," said Dr Bartram.

"Particularly as the quality of the grass silage from an intake and energy content perspective was significantly better than last year.

"Also the overall situation for weather, milk price and feed price has been much better than last year."

Production has been two per cent above 2012's figure for the time of year, at about 1,100 litres, after cattle reached a peak at the end of April of 1,250 litres.

He went on to say, in his company's dairy update for December: "Undoubtedly the general lack of significant quantities of maize silage until late October has not helped.

"However, production in October appears to have turned a corner and is now tracking at around 10 per cent on last year."

He said he expected this to mean an increase of about 1.75 litres per cow per day.

"It must be remembered that last year was a very difficult year for most people and producers are encouraged to compare production with the autumn of 2011 as a more meaningful comparison."

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