- The fact that you served the cows last month, and considering that cows should be rested for two months’ before the next service, this would imply that they had calved at least three months ago.
- Once you have a foundation of good genetics, now shift to management. Each of your cows should be fed 15-20kg of chopped forage or hay per day.
- Steaming up is done about two months before calving as happens with drying off of milking.
Milk production curve
I am Simon and I have a dairy enterprise in Machakos, which has four Friesian cows of which two have calved once. My plan and wish is to breed my own calves by crossbreeding with other breeds like Fleckvieh or Ayrshire. Two of those that have calved were served again last month. Kindly educate me on:-
1. The two (which are still being milked) seem to have reduced milk production from 10-12 litres per day to almost six, and the udder seems to have reduced, what could be the problem?
According to the lactation curve, cows reach peak production 4 to 8 weeks after calving, thereafter milk production gradually declines.
The fact that you served the cows last month, and considering that cows should be rested for two months’ before the next service, this would imply that they had calved at least three months ago.
Therefore, they are just about peak or past their peak production. However, a drop in production by half, if sudden, could be as a result of one or several factors.
Cow factors (mastitis, other diseases or stress), management factors (change in quantity and quality of feeds, poor mineral and concentrate supplementation and insufficient wholesome water).
You may need to get a qualified vet to examine your animals and advice accordingly.
2. What can I do best to increase milk production in future and what should I do during steaming up to facilitate udder growth?
Milk production is a factor of genetics and management. Making genetic leaps using conventional artificial insemination is great but it does take time.
If you can manage, you could go in for sexed-semen although this would require that you have virgin heifers.
Once you have a foundation of good genetics, now shift to management. Each of your cows should be fed 15-20kg of chopped forage or hay per day.
Additionally, feed 3kg concentrates (dairy meal) per day for each cow depending on individual production. You may challenge the animals by increasing their respective dairy meal rations up to an optimal level.
Provide quality mineral salt at a rate of 150g for every five litres of milk produced, and an extra 60g for every extra five litres. Free lick Intromin Mineral block should be availed at all times.
Wholesome drinking water must be available all the time. You need reserve feeds during times of shortages. When quality of your pasture is low, you could supplement with molasses which is energy and minerals rich.