Healthy diet key to more milk

There’s a lot to consider when buying feeds and meeting the nutrient needs for dairy cows.

The need to maintain a well-balanced and consistent diet that achieves sound rumen health in dairy cows — while delivering high milk productivity — is the daily goal on-farm when it comes to feedbase management.

But getting the basics right is not always as simple as it may sound.

Dairy farmers understand the direct impacts animal nutrition management can have on their business profitability and cow health.

Confidently making cost-effective, on-farm nutrition decisions, which match their farm systems and plans, is a complex business in itself.

Dairy Australia’s development and regional adaptation lead Dr Brenda McLachlan said there was a lot to consider when buying feeds and meeting the nutrient needs for dairy cows.

“Farmers must look at feed supplement options to cater for energy, fibre and protein needs,” Brenda said.

“Then there’s monitoring animal health and body condition, as well as managing feed quality when it comes to pastures and forages.

“Add in planning for factors impacting intake such as hot weather events — it makes for a complex task.”

Feeding the highest quality forages to the milking herd is essential in working towards meeting adequate nutrient needs.

Often the challenge for farmers is knowing what nutrients are in the feeds they select for their cows and the impact on milk production and composition.

“Having the know-how to select feeds that have appropriate nutrients for the dairy herd will help put farmers one step closer to increasing farm income,” Brenda said.

Dairy Australia’s Nutrition Fundamentals workshop has been helping farmers do just that.

One of the feedbase and nutrition service offerings, this program has been running nationally since 2018 with numerous farmers and farm staff having participated across all regions.

“We run this as a practical, two-day workshop designed to support farm businesses and their service providers to get the basics right when it comes to dairy cow nutrition,” Brenda said.

Developed to help improve farmers’ understanding on feed nutrients, rumen digestion and health and cow energy requirements, it is an introductory program on basic dairy cow nutrition for farmers and their staff.

The workshop has recently been updated.

“We asked for feedback from farmers and recognised the need to adjust the Nutrition Fundamentals program to make the workshops more engaging with lots of take-home messages and actions farmers can implement in their nutrition management practices,” Brenda said.

“It’s a more engaging, evidence-based extension service that is designed to support practice change on-farm, as well as provide participants with the knowledge and skills to make informed feeding decisions.”

For more information about Nutrition Fundamental workshops, contact your regional Dairy Australia office.

For more information about feedbase and animal nutrition, visit: