Managers of the
SCL du Lié dairy farm, at Bréhan, in Morbihan
• Quota: 928,000 L
• Herd: 99 Prim’Holsteins
• Pig fattening house (manager: Dominique Surel)
• 145 ha of utilised agricultural land
“Well prepared and better supported,
our cows are starting lactation more easily”
Mineral and energy supplementation
Roselyne and Loïc Baud are partners in SCL du Lié with their brother-in-law, Dominique Surel, and a neighbour, Loïc Michard. The structure’s quota has changed significantly in recent years. “The surface area of our farm building became a little tight in relation to our production rights. Upping the level of production seemed to us to be the only solution,” the partners explain. One year ago, their cows were producing 30-31 kg on average (or a rolling average of between 9800 and 10,000 kg), and Roselyne and Loïc Baud found themselves unable to lift these results.
A deficiency in phosphorous and magnesium
At Space 2010, following initial contact at the trade show, Vitalac offered an audit of their farm to enable definition of the main levers of improvement. “It didn’t commit us to anything,” stresses Loïc. “We wanted to make progress, and we were prepared, if necessary, to change our way of working, so getting an external expert opinion was great.” Philippe Arzul, a veterinarian and Ruminants Manager at Vitalac, therefore travelled to the farm in October and submitted a report to the farmers, together with his recommendations. “He really has a very good approach to things. We learned a lot from listening to him”, admits Roselyne. The Vitalac audit did not identify any specific nutritional deficiency, other than a shortage of magnesium and an incorrect phosphorous / calcium ratio in the feed (not enough phosphorous). “This mineral element plays a leading role in energy metabolism (transport of ATP) and the correct functioning of ruminal cellulolytic fungi,” notes Vitalac technician Yoann Flého. A mycotoxin analysis of the semi-complete feed also revealed significant forage contamination.
New mineral balance
Following the audit, Roselyne and Loïc Baud chose to opt for a mineral, Vitacarte 4.5 / 12 / 4, distributed at a rate of 600 g/DC/d, providing twice as much phosphorous and magnesium as the previous one. Vitacarte is much more than a mineral; it also contains several buffer factors: lithothamnium, salt and bicarbonate (100 g), as well as live yeasts and a mycotoxin binder.
On the day of calving, the cow is drenched with 1 kg of Vitadrench + 30 L of warm water. This bolus of salts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, vitamins and trace elements helps the cow to begin its lactation and regain its appetite. The drenching is carried out with a 1m 80 hose pipe and manual pump: “with 64 pump strokes,” specifies Loïc Baud. “To begin with, you worry about getting it in the mouth, but it works well and in the end it’s very easy.” In the last six months, with the new mineral and drenching system, combined with a new feeding regime for dry cows (see box opposite), milk fever has disappeared and the cows have delivered all by themselves. The farmers were very grateful!
Better energy maintenance
Post-calving problems were affecting the beginning of lactation. The cows were having difficulty starting and were developing acetonaemia. In complement with the production feed, during the beginning of lactation (80-100 days), the farmers decided to distribute Végélin, an energy concentrate (2.4 FU/kg of DM) in the form of fats and extruded flaxseed. And to further reduce energy deficiency during this period, they equipped the concentrated feed distributor with a Glycoline liquid distribution system last March. This cocktail of glucose precursors (200 mL/day) boosts cows in the first weeks of lactation. “They are losing much less weight and starting lactation better. The increase is very fast, between 35 and 45 kg/day for primiparas, over 50 kg for multiparas”. The target peak is now always exceeded, with very good persistence, including several cows with 38 kg of milk after over 250 days of lactation! The rolling average over 12 months finally reached 11,000 kg after 10 months of Vitalac Nutrition.
Dry Cow Programme
Cows well prepared for calving
Roselyne and Loïc Baud also revised, with Vitalac, the management of their cows during the drying-off period (50 days). The ration for dry cows is now as follows: a small amount of rationed silage maize (6 kg of DM), 1 kg of soya, self-service straw and 200 g of Vitaform, a 5 / 10 / 15 mineral rich in magnesia and with a negative anion-cation balance to prompt the cow to use its calcium reserves + 100 g of Vitabiocell (mycotoxin binder). 15 days before calving, Loïc distributes Glycoline (granulated glucose precursors) in the dry cow and heifer feed to give them a boost and encourage their appetite.
Milk fever in calving and non-deliveries, which were a recurring problem on the farm, were not due to a lack of calcium, but a lack of phosphorous!
“Intravenous calcium was having no effect,” recognises Loïc Baud.