Dry cows and pregnant heifers should be in a group in DairyPlan that has feed allocated to them at least at -14 days before calving, so that on the day of calving, the cows have feed available.
If for some reason this is not possible at a farm, then fresh cows or cows recently moved to the farm should be allocated feed in the cow’s DPSingle page or using a worksheet so that the cow has feed available on the first day of her lactation. These cows should be monitored to ensure that they are getting the correct amount of feed, realizing that once feed is allocated to these new cows and they are assigned to a group, their feed will only change by the max allowed change per day. For instance, here at -14 days before the cow’s expected calving date she will begin to be allocated feed, but since the max allowed change per day is 0.5 pounds, she will get the following:
|Days before expected calving date||-14||-13||-12||-11||-10||-9||-8||-7||-6|
|Feed allocation (lbs.)||0.50||1.00||1.5||2.0||2.5||3.0||3.5||4.0||4.0|
It is also important to look at the feed curves. In DairyPlan, each milking group has their own feed curves and they can be adjusted if required. Since we are focusing on fresh cow management, we’ll take a closer look at the beginning of the curve or the challenge/fresh period. DairyPlan has the ability to feed based off days in milk (DIM) or milk production, and the program will choose the higher value and allocate this amount. However, dairies can set a “Challenge Period” where the cows will only be fed off the DIM table. In the example below, the “Challenge Period” is 14 days. Therefore, based off this feed table fresh cows will receive 3kg (6.6 lbs) at day 0 and will ramp up by a maximum of 300g (.6 lbs.)/day, until the cow hits day 14, after which she will then be allocated based off her days in milk or her milk production.This tool is to allow you to provide the cow an adequate amount of pellets to support early lactation and energy requirements, even if the cow is having a slow start to her lactation, and is not producing to the level expected immediately upon calving. Providing the cow with enough nutrients during the fresh period is crucial to the success of the overall lactation.
By using the reports available in DairyPlan such as “Feed Overview”, you can monitor and help to ensure the fresh cows are eating the amounts allocated to them and provide the cows the best nutritional start to their lactation possible.