The function of the dry matter ration

The function of the dry matter ration

The dry matter ration is one of the most important but also one of the most difficult rations on a dairy farm. It is a search for balance. On the one hand, the cow must be given the opportunity to recover from her completed lactation. On the other hand, she must be prepared for the next lactation. Problems around calving, such as milk fever, must be prevented. Last but not least, there is also a calf growing inside her.

In the 6-8 week dry period, it is essential not to feed the cow too richly. This is to prevent fattening. On the other hand, sufficient microbial protein must be formed for the calf's growth and to form good-quality colostrum. In addition, it is essential to keep the rumen trained for the next lactation. Trained means able to ferment a lot of forage and produce microbial protein. Every kilogram of dry matter the cow eats more the day before calving, she eats more the day after calving.

As the cow hormonally wants to move towards her peak production in the first 60 days after calving, it is essential to facilitate this as much as possible with nutrition. Often, milk production is even higher than her supplementary feed and she enters a negative energy balance. An extra kilogram of dry matter in the cow may not seem like much then, but it quickly amounts to an extra 950-1000 VEM. This is energy for more than 2 kilograms of milk, which she does not need to draw from her body reserves.

Monitoring dry matter intake during dry heat is, therefore, crucial for a healthy and productive new lactation. Averaged over the entire dry period, there should be at least around 14 kilograms of dry matter per cow daily. This dry matter intake combined with preventing problems around calving can only be achieved through a sophisticated dry matter ration. If, as a dairy farmer, you are at the right wheel during this period, the rest of lactation will go on automatic pilot.

We will be happy to advise you on the right dry-off ration for your cows. Want to know more about our concepts or make an appointment with our specialists to see if we can support you on your farm? Feel free to look further on our website or contact us without any obligation.

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Martijn Kirghof
Martijn Kirghof
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