Protect Dairy Cow Health and Productivity by Avoiding Nutritional Cost-Cutting
Lower milk prices forecasted for 2015 will likely have many producers seeking cost savings. All too often, nutrition is one of the first things considered to scale back. Any short-term savings, however, can be more than offset by resulting negative health issues and lower productivity.
“Producers should give a thoughtful review to diet composition, including forage and grain quality, and sources of off-farm feeds and byproducts,” said Glenn Holub, Dairy Technology Manager for Phibro Animal Health Corporation. “However, I would caution against sudden diet changes that may compromise dairy cow health and performance.”
Sudden ration changes, Holub said, may result in changes in nutrient density, dry matter intakes and lower milk production. Stress levels on the cows’ immune system can increase, causing them to become more susceptible to infections and profit-robbing diseases.
Holub noted that some producers, as a cost-saving measure, have discontinued feeding Phibro Animal Health’s nutritional specialty product, OmniGen-AF ®, when things were going well on their operation – only to experience increased health and productivity challenges. They then reverse their decision and bring the nutritional product back into the program.
OmniGen-AF is recommended to be fed to all dry, pre-fresh and lactating cows to help support normal immune function in the face of expected and unexpected stress events. Continued use helps support a healthy immune system, which may help result in fewer health events, a lower somatic cell count and fewer cases of mastitis and metritis. This, in turn, may lead to higher milk production and fewer unplanned culls.
Thomas Dairy in Louisville, Ohio, began feeding OmniGen-AF based on the recommendation of their consultant. When it stopped feeding OmniGen-AF, somatic cell counts increased. But when OmniGen-AF was added back to the cow rations, the somatic cell count was reduced. “We got everything we hoped for – improved cow health and better milk quality,” said dairy owner Mark Thomas. “We get the maximum amount of premiums for quality milk. We give credit to both improved management and OmniGen-AF.”
Holub cautioned that cutting investment in cow comfort can also compromise immune function. Examples include adding more cows to maintain cash flow, which could result in excessive stocking density, and cutbacks in bedding to stretch the normal supply of sand or other materials, which could result in wet and dirty stalls that raise the risk of higher somatic cell counts.
OG111214 ©2015 OmniGen-AF is a registered trademark owned by Phibro Animal Health Corporation and its affiliates.