Did you know that 58% of your milk cheque income is directly related to the amount of fat present in the milk and that a larger proportion of your gross profits are linked to milk fat?
The fat present in milk is influenced by 5 factors:
- Management and genetic selection
- The animals
- Intestinal health of the animal
Here are the top nine tips that could help you maximize your milk fat production:
1) Focus first on the health of the rumen
Rumination contributes to the production of substances such as acetic acid, which favours milk fat. Increased rumination time, up to a maximum of 500 minutes per day, has demonstrated improvements in the milk fat test. Space at the manger and the fibres, in particular, are examples of elements likely to optimize the rumination. In TMR, having too many long particles increases sorting and causes a decrease in the fat content in the milk. Too fine of a ration is not desirable either.
2) Serve the ration in two meals rather than one
In a controlled study, this allowed the same total quantity fed to increase the milk fat yield per cow by two kilograms per day. Also, remember to push the ration as often as possible.
Ensuring unlimited access to the feeder, especially after milking – at least 24 inches of space at the feeder - will have the added benefit of promoting calm and harmony in the herd.
In individual feeding, serving several small meals of concentrates up to four kilograms also contributes to a healthy ruminal pH.
3) Make more milk
To make more kilograms of fat, the equation is simple: make more milk.
In recent years, we have calculated income over feed costs on 931 farms. In these farms, 78 percent of the margin is due to fat production in kilograms per cow per day (Figure 1)
4) Provide water on a daily basis
To make milk, it takes water. In loose housing, a minimum of four linear inches at the water trough is required. In tie stalls, a minimum flow of 20 litres per minute is required at all times.
5) Monitor equipment
Milk that has been frozen or over agitated in the tank may show up as a drop in the milk fat test.
6) Minimize heat stress
Heat stress is known to cause a decrease in consumption and thus immediately affecting the production of milk and components. We have observed in our monthly compilations of peaks of lactation that the negative impact is observable for months after the heat stress event.
Source: DairyComp Monthly reports, 2017.
7) Avoid energy deficits
No energy means no fat. Remember, 50% of milk fatty acids are synthesized in the mammary gland and the rest comes from the cow’s diet. Equilibrating amino acids (e.ge. methionine) can bring more fat into the milk.
Specific nutrients like magnesium oxide, potassium, sodium bicarbonate, yeasts, vitamins, rumen modifiers and protected or free fats are all ingredients that need special attention given their influence on the milk fat test.
8) Watch the growth of heifers
For every kilogram of pre-weaning gain of calves, it has been observed that the future cow will produce 1,500 kilograms more milk during the first lactation. To achieve this, we recommend feeding young calves three times a day and weaning them gradually.
9) Promoting gut heath
Ruminal health has been a focus for many years but new research is now showing the importance of a healthy gut for fat production.
Management and dietary efforts can help you improve your income and ensure healthy animals.