As many dairy farmers in northern Victoria were calving down, a group of 13 finished a short course on feed planning including transition feeding last week.LAURA GRIFFIN April 1, 2014 4:06am
As many dairy farmers in northern Victoria were calving down, a group of 13 finished a short course on feed planning including transition feeding last week.
Despite having different roles on farms of varying sizes, the students shared a passion for improving feeding systems as a way to improve cow health and increase milk production and profitability.
National Centre for Dairy Education industry trainer Sue Milne, who delivered the course with Jo Crosby at GOTAFE’s William Orr campus in Shepparton, said passionate discussions and thought-provoking questions had pushed the four-day course to be almost a day behind.
Mrs Milne said the course was a component of Certificate IV in Agriculture, but had been opened to other farmers following her discussions with many about feeding last year, particularly during the spring calving period.
She said farmers wanted to be able to feed the cows better, particularly when transitioning from dry to milking, and to better understand nutritionists and other consultants’ suggestions.
Sharyn Griffiths said although she mostly did book work on her and husband Steve’s Katunga farm, she wanted to understand the business better and be able to decipher what the consultant said about feed, which was an expensive input.
Anita Ligthart said the course would similarly help her support partner Wayne Stephens on the Strathmerton farm where they milk about 160 cows.
‘‘Wayne has been dairying his whole life, but this course will provide a new outlook on the feed practices and I’ll be able to help troubleshoot problems,’’ Ms Ligthart said.
An effective transition feeding program can reduce the risk of metabolic disorders, Ms Crosby told the group.
By gradually increasing the amount of grain given to in-calf cows to half the amount they would get in the dairy, their rumens can adapt to the milker diet.
To prepare cows for trouble-free calving and prevent milk fever and other metabolic disorders including ketosis and grass tetany, their diets need to have adequate nutrients.
Ms Crosby said on the day a cow calved, its calcium requirement doubled and if that was not met, milk fever resulted.
Because cows cannot get the full requirement of calcium from their diet at that point, their blood had to be slightly acidified to get the process of getting calcium reserves from the bones started, which is where the dietary cation-anion difference or DCAD came into play.
‘‘Farmers need to get their feeds tested to work out the DCAD of the cows’ whole diet,’’ she said.
One rule of thumb was to avoid any feeds with lots of the positively charged potassium, such as those treated with hay boosters.
Great time had at this year's Barmah Muster.
The Mulwala Lions had satisfying and hard fought win, in difficult conditions, against last year’s grand finalists at Lonsdale Reserve on Saturday.
The second annual Bonnie and Clyde Rods, Rats and Rides Festival fired up at Tatura Park at the weekend (April 11-12), drawing thousands of petrol heads and rockabilly music lovers to Tatura.
Friday’s annual primary inter-school cross country meet will see a broader variety of students taking part, as well as the introduction of a new finish line.
Lockington Vintage Tractor and Stationary Engine Rally is on for the 18th time this weekend and there is something for everyone.
Kyabram and District Sportstar of the Year nominations finalised
Three local clubs get together at Kings Park.
Tributes flow for Finley's inspiring mother, friend and farming advocate Jennifer Hawkins
A visit by Coliban Water to Heathcote last week provided residents with a chance to quiz staff about water and sewer services.
A new book, Men from the River Bends, honours Cobram-Barooga and district soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice after enlisting in World War 1.
Deniliquin bowler Dennis O'Keefe lost 25-19 in his bid for a quarter-final spot in the Victorian Singles Championships this week.
Widespread rain late last week and on Saturday put a smile on the faces of farmers preparing to sow crops or waiting for weeds to emerge on early-sown rye-grass.
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