Feeding your animals well will increase your income, as dairy cows require a balanced diet for milk production, body maintenance, and good health. They should also be provided with enough water so they can drink as much water as they need. The amount and quality of milk produced by a dairy cow rely heavily on the kind of food it is fed and the way it is fed. No matter how good the breed, no dairy cow can remain productive without proper management, especially management of feeding. If cows are grazed on a farm where there is little pasture and little water and housed in dirty sheds contaminated with cow dung and urine, they will yield less milk and be more susceptible to diseases.
To ensure good yields and income, in addition to selecting good breeding stock, proper feeding, housing, and handling of dairy cows are necessary. Good breeds are much more likely to produce a higher amount of milk and money if provided with proper care, cleanliness, and, of course, safe housing. Poorly managed animals tend to give less milk and incur huge veterinary expenses which decrease profits.
Furthermore, for a healthy and productive dairy cow, feed rations should contain a balance of quantity, quality, and amounts of concentrates, protein, minerals, and vitamins. A dairy cow should be fed 3kg of concentrates per day to maintain healthy growth and productivity. In order to challenge the animals further, they may require an increase in their daily meal rations for up to an optimal level. As the number of beneficial bacteria increases, the number of microbial proteins increases, which in conjunction with increased net energy leads to high milk production.
The quality and quantity of milk produced by a dairy cow are often dependent on the feeds which the cow is fed. It derives energy from the feeds for milk production, growth, and maintenance. When a cow is chronically sick and unable to feed well, its energy levels decrease. The cow’s first response is to decrease milk production to conserve energy for its well-being. If energy levels remain low, the cow will not show any signs of heat. In the absence of the right type and quantity of feed, production and reproduction are the two factors most affected. In order for a farmer to provide adequate rations to meet the production and reproductive requirements of his dairy cows, it is necessary for him to understand the nutritional requirements of the dairy cow. Healthy and productive cows require feed rations that are a balance of quantities, quality, amounts of concentrates, protein, minerals, and vitamins.
Fodder/roughages are bulky feeds that are rich in energy or protein but are not a whole food. They play an important role in stimulating milk production in dairy cows, constituting up to 80 percent of their diet. Napier grass is best intercropped with desmodium and harvested, harvested, and fed together to produce the best feeding. A dairy cow should consume 15-20 kg of chopped fodder per day preferably in two splits, one in the morning and the other in the evening. Fresh fodder should be fed out again after a day’s wilt, in 2-inch pieces.
Cow Feed intake and Utilization for Milk Production
For dairy cows, after calving, they should be fed 3kg of dairy meal per day depending on individual production. The animals may be further challenged by increasing their dairy meal rations for additional performance. The dairy meal should be fed after milking so the cow is still standing. The result is a reduced risk of teat infection and mastitis. In fact, farmers should provide dairy cows with yeast either in feed or drinking water to increase milk production. This is because yeast can increase feed digestion and improve overall performance and productivity. The yeast extract increases the number and activity of beneficial bacteria in the ruminal tract, which leads to an increase in ruminal fermentation and net energy production. The animal consumes more dry matter from the fermented organic matter, thereby increasing net energy production.
The number of beneficial bacteria increases, along with an increase in microbial protein, which in combination with increased net energy produces increased milk production. Stimosol Oral is a well-balanced blend of yeast, vitamins, organic acids, and minerals. Nutritional supplements should be given because they are essential in milk production, they increase fertility, they reduce placenta retention incidences, and also help develop strong bones in the growing foetus. Granular mineral salts should be mixed with feeds or fed with the concentrates. It may be necessary to moisten the granular mineral salts in a feeding trough to prevent dusting during licking as this predisposes the cows to respiratory problems.
Nutrient and Feed Requirements of a Dairy Cow
Feeding requirements for lactating cows are different from those for calves and heifers. The amount of feed provided to the cows varies depending on the amount of milk it produces, its weight, temperature, and levels of activity. As for the feed given, it needs to be digestible so that nutrients can be absorbed in the body and not contain toxic substances.
Any balanced feed must contain sufficient amounts of energy (carbohydrates and fats), protein, fibre, minerals, vitamins, and moisture. Furthermore, provide sufficient dry matter for fodder crops, such as Napier grass, because it is the most important feed for feeding dairy cattle, as it provides energy for body maintenance, milk production, growth, weight gain, and reproduction. Additionally, molasses, maize, and wheat germ can be given extra energy sources, which assist in digestion and improve milk fat levels. A mature cross breed cow weighing 400kg typically needs 10-15kg of fodder a day. When feeding Napier grass to cows, make sure that the grass is at least 3ft in height. Any grass shorter than this may have less dry matter and more water in it, so the cow may not receive adequate nutrition.
Energy Requirement for Dairy Cow
Dairy cows require a basal diet that is sufficient enough to meet the animal’s above-average nutritional needs but does not necessarily include all minerals and vitamins. This diet is usually obtained from pasture grasses, fodder, and silage. This means that the cow needs a basal diet to fill its large stomach this diet provides it with energy. These diets are commonly used by dairy cows, goats, and sheep and make up the bulk of their daily ration. Various factors determine the daily consumption of energy feeds, including the quality of the feed, the size of the animal, what type of milk is produced, how much supplements are given, and the dry matter content of the feed material. The basal diet cannot be replaced by supplements such as concentrates.
The shortage of fodder during dry seasons often causes many small-scale farmers to feed the cows more dairy meals. However, they usually get disappointed when milk production does not increase and come to blame animal feed companies. Some farmers may think the breed of the dairy cow is the reason behind the shortfall. Farmers should realize that without sufficient foodstuffs to fill the animal’s stomach, even the best quality dairy meal cannot cause increased milk production. If not, farm animals eat the food to maintain their body, not to increase milk production. In many cases, the farmers feed their animals with rotten maize, which may contain aflatoxin. Aflatoxin can contaminate cow’s milk and can be dangerous even for humans who consume it.
In feeds, feeds with adequate protein are crucial as feeding with enough protein builds the body and helps in milk production. Adequate protein also facilitates the conversion of roughage into nutrients in the rumen (in the stomach). In addition, farmers need to supplement the forage diet with proteins because an inadequate protein in the animal’s diet leads to poor growth, reduced milk production, loss of weight, and delayed maturity. Good protein sources for animals include legumes, white clover, and bean straw. Additional feed grains such as calliandra, sesbania, and Leucaena provide protein. Farmers should dry calliandra before giving it fresh to the animals as it causes the milk to smell bad. Researchers have demonstrated that 3kg of tree fodder may be as effective as 1kg of dairy meal in producing the same amount of milk as 12kg of legumes. This means the farmer can provide the cow with 12kg of legumes instead of 4kg of dairy meal.
Additionally, both minerals and vitamins are important. A cow should also be provided with mineral licks. The minerals contain calcium, phosphorus, and other important minerals that support milk production and other body functions. In pregnancy, cows particularly require adequate amounts of minerals to help the development of the calf’s bones and tissues. Regular table salt, however, does not contain the required minerals. A, D, and E vitamins cannot be produced by the cow’s body. These vitamins help it maintain good health and can be provided through supplements.
It is also important for farmers to have a reliable water source, as water makes up half of the weight of an adult cow. This water transports the food the animal eats to the body tissues and organs and cools the animal when it is hot. Typically, dairy cows need between 60 and 110 liters of water in a day. This helps them increase milk production and to keep their body condition healthy. Water should be available at all times so the animal can take it as much as it needs.