Fresh Cow Pen Adjustments Show Positive Results

Fresh dairy cattle sometimes need a little extra TLC. Moving cows too early can hurt milk production.
Fresh Cow Pen Adjustments Show Positive Results - Articles


Penn State Dairy Cows

The weather in September with comfortable days and cool evenings provided the ideal environment for our cows. It has also been rewarding to replenish our forage inventories and not deal with the shortfalls we've had the last few years. This has allowed us to feed the proportion of haylage and corn silage that seems to work best for our herd.

A primary goal of our management team has been to maintain adequate corn silage inventory so as to avoid feeding this year's silage too soon after harvest. The BMR corn silage lasted a full three months with the bunk being close to empty the end of September. There is another full bunk of last year's corn silage, which will get us through December. This should keep cows milking well until it is time to switch.

The herd ration remained at 60% forage as a percent of dry matter. I felt this was necessary with all the fresh cows calving and trying to maintain an adequate starch level in the diet. The fresh pen can hold only a limited number of cows at one time. With so many freshenings, animals were being moved out of this pen too quickly to make room for others. At our weekly meeting the assistant managers mentioned having increased fresh cow problems. I noticed milk production was not where it should be for the first 30 days in milk. The assistant managers suggested changing our groups around so we could make a larger fresh pen. This would give us more flexibility in the length of time these animals could stay in that pen, more than two weeks if necessary. The new groups were made on the 12th. I was amazed at how quickly this change impacted production without making any ration adjustments. The average production per week for the herd was 79, 82, 85.5 and 87 pounds, respectively. At the same time as creating this larger fresh cow pen we were also able to make a 2-year old pen.

There was one minor ration adjustment made in the diet and that was the corn grain particle size. Prior to the 17th the corn grain was 50/50 coarse ground and fine ground. With the ration starch level at 24% on a dry matter basis I wanted to evaluate if altering the ratio to 60/40 would make any difference. The fat test for the month was extremely consistent, however after making this change there did appear to be a difference in milk protein percent and MUNs. Prior to the change milk protein percent and MUNs (mg/dl) were 3.08 and 7.20 compared to after the change of 3.13 and 6.30. Examining each bulk tank test and the consistency of the values before and after did give the impression this slight adjustment had an effect. For the month of September the herd averaged 83.4 pounds with a 3.55% fat, 3.10% protein, 216,000 SCC and 6.75 mg/dl MUN.

IOFC Results

Month and Year No Risk Mgt Gross Milk Price/cwtW/ Risk Mgt Gross Milk Price/cwtMilk income/cowFeed cost/cowIOFCAverage milk lbsLow BenchmarkHigh benchmark

IOFC Graph