The cows are split into two groups, with the highs being fed a diet for M+24 litres down the trough, and the lows getting M+18 outside, with feed topped up to yield through the parlour for both groups. Cows are fed a high starch diet and when Malcolm discussed his concerns with his feed specialist, Dave McDonnell from Carrs Billington, Dave suggested that acidosis could be an issue as only 40 per cent of cows were cudding 2 hours after eating.
“We didn’t have major problems,” Malcolm explained, “but I felt that we had higher levels of lameness than I wanted despite regular foot bathing and trimming. Our fertility performance was also poorer than expected.”
Dave suggested that Malcolm considered adding bicarb to the ration to provide rumen buffering but this delivered no tangible benefits so Dave then suggested trying Actisaf® live yeast.
“The minute we put the Actisaf® in we saw a benefit,” Malcolm said. “It is hard to quantify but cows definitely seemed happier and more content, and cudding rates increased to more than 60 per cent cudding 2 hours after feeding. Muck was more consistent and cows seemed to be lying down more. We also saw improvements in lameness and fertility too. We have a foot trimmer come in every 5 weeks and he commented that horn quality was much improved and we expect this to reduce lameness problems. What’s more, our pregnancy rate has increased to 23%, which is a considerable improvement on where it was, and good performance by industry standards.”
Both high and low groups get Actisaf®, and the cows are now averaging more than 9,000 litres at 4.13% butterfat and 3.35% protein, with a concentrate feed rate of 0.26kg/litre.
“Actisaf® certainly justifies itself,” Malcolm concluded. “It helps to get rumen health right, which has a corresponding effect on overall cow health, and if you get that right then fertility and yield follow. It has certainly made a positive impact for us.”