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MANAGEMENT OF THE DAIRY COW
DeLaval® There are thousands of dairy farms around the world with different farm plans and management strategies. Climate, market conditions, traditions, breeds etc. affect the running and planning of the business. If we try to categorise and generalise the world wide dairy operations, we relatively easily find three main "types" (see picture below). The American type(North and South America) is characterised by large loose-housing operations, total mixed ration feeding (TMR) and relatively many employees. However, dairy farms in Northeast US and parts of Canada differ from the typical American operation. There you find many smaller family farms with either loose-housing or stanchion barns. These operations are quite similar to the European type, which ischaracterised by relatively small operations where each cow is fed and treated individually. Management types in different parts of the world. The third type is mainly found in New Zealand and Australia. The dairy operations in this area are usually run in a very extensive way, relying to a great extent on grazing. Due to the climate and local restrictions, New Zealand and Australian dairy farmers donot rely on concentrate use so much. On top of that, the milk market is deregulated and the prices follow the world market price (WMP). When you look closely at all these farm types, they share many underlying principles. Regardless of management strategy, farm size or local climate, the cow has to calf, produce milk, eat, be kept in good health status etc. The goal for any dairy farm should beto maximise profit per unit of milk within farm constraints and, in some parts of the world, within milk quotas. To be able to do so, we need to know how to manage the cow and how different production aspects interact with each other. Feeding. As the dairy cow.s genetic potential is increasing, feeds and feeding strategies are becoming more and more important. It is well known that the amount ofmilk to be produced is highly influenced by the amount and quality of the feed given to the cow. Managing feeding One of the primary keys to a successful dairy operation is a good nutrition program. Not only is nutrition one of the highest input costs (about 50% of the total costs), but it also controls theresults of milk production, reproduction and health.The basis in all feeding programs is theroughage and a common recommendation is that this shall account for 40.60 percent of the total dry matter intake. A cow.s intake per day is limited, and it is therefore important to know the dry matter and nutritional content of both the roughage and concentrate. However, the cow.s daily dry matter intake is dependent on her

stage of lactation. The intake will gradually increase after calving,to reach its peak approx. 6.12 weeks after calving. When all the feedstuffs (including roughage) have been analysed, we have to make sure that each cow gets what she need in terms of energy, protein, minerals, vitamins and water. To do so there are a number of feeding strategies and systems to choose between. Their common trait is that the roughage intake is controlled through the distribution ofconcentrates. The more concentrates that are supplied, either separately or in a mix with the roughage, the less roughage the cow will eat. Milking. To illustrate an individual cow.s milk production, we normally plot the yields against time, which gives us the lactation curve illustrated in the picture below. As the diagram shows, the milk yield will rise during the first months after calving,which then is followed by a long period of continuous decline. The shape of the lactation curve will differ from individual to individual and from breed to breed. Feeding and management will also influence the shape and have a significant impact on the total amount of milk produced. Lactation is ideally 305 days, but in practice it is usually more, followed by a two-month dry period prior to the...
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