Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Limiting milk loss in heat

Dairy farmers Nick and Jane Andrews are taking measures to help their cows continue to produce at high levels during the heat.

LAURA GRIFFIN February 4, 2014 4:00am

Nanneella dairy farmer Jack McQuillan (left) and employee Dustin Kemp (right) found the days sessions useful. Pictured with Advanced Ag agronomist Luke Nagel (centre).

Dairy farmers Nick and Jane Andrews are taking measures to help their cows continue to produce at high levels during the heat.

The milking herd is being offered pasture at night and during the day they eat their millet allocation before being fed silage under trees. Milking is normally finished by 7.30am so the herd can graze the millet before it gets too hot.

To further help to maintain production levels — as at January 11, the 210 cows were producing on average 27.8litres/cow/day of milk with 2.06kg/cow/day of milk solids — Mr and Mrs Andrews are increasing concentrate level on hot days and giving the herd the best quality silage under the shade of trees.

At a Murray Dairy focus farm field day held at their Katandra West property last Thursday, consultant Phil Shannon commended Mr and Mrs Andrews on increasing the quality of the diet during the heat to ensure cows got as much nutrients as possible when their food intake was lower.

He suggested maintaining the high quality diet for at least two or three days after a heat wave to help cows recover and get back to full production.

He said protracted heat hit high-producing dairy cows particularly hard.

‘‘The higher production, the further the fall,’’ Mr Shannon said.

In the hot weather, cows need more energy to keep cool and have less time to eat intensively.

Given the protracted heat in north Victoria in recent weeks, he said farmers needed to remember the longer heat persisted, the longer it took for cows to recover.

‘‘Dairy cows load heat and it can take two or three days for them to unload it.’’

Ways to help manage cows’ heat load is having them under sprinklers, particularly with big drops, so water is carried off to take heat; and changing milking times out of the heat of the day.

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