Newspaper Page Text
A34-Lancaster Farming, Saturday, April 1, 2000
DHIA Service Center, Orchard Road, University Park, PA 16802
Question: We are debating
the need for a prefresh diet
for our heifers. What are
some indicators that would
tell us if this management
change would be beneficial?
When this question came in, I
checked some PA DHIA records
before giving an answer. I
always recommend a transition
or prefresh diet for all animals
before their next calving. I
believe this is especially benefi
cial for heifers that calve for the
first time, due to all the changes
that happen to them during this
period. What are some statisti
cal indicators that lead me to
One place where I evaluate
heifer performance and how well
prepared the heifers are to
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FOR MORE INFORMATION:
become cows is found on the
third section down on Herd
Summary 11. Here we see
“Profile of Cows by Lactation
Number.” Near the center of the
page is a column that states the
average days to peak and the
average milk at peak. As we
compare days to peak in this
particular herd, we see a large
contrast between older cows and
first lactation heifers. The sec
ond lactation cows reach peak at
80 days and the older ones at 60.
In contrast, we see that the first
lactation heifers take 130 days
to reach peak. It is normal for
heifers to reach peak slower
than their older counterparts,
but certainly not this slow. Past
first lactation, cows should
reach peak milk production two
to three weeks ahead of reaching
peak dry matter intake. With
this bit of knowledge, we recog
nize the need for proper body
reserves and transition diets can
reduce the weight loss that is
seen as cows reach peak around
60 days in milk. Heifers that
obviously are going through
more changes at this time usual
ly hit peak milk a bit later at 75
to 85 days in milk. The heifers
that are peaking much later
than this are telling us we have
not prepared them very well to
be milk cows.
Another evaluation that tells
us if we are meeting the needs of
these changing animals is look
ing at some reproductive perfor
mance parameters and how they
differ from one age group to
another. Again, we use our PA
DHIA Herd Summary II for this
information. The second section
down is the “Reproductive
Profile of Breeding Herd.” Going
right to left we come across the
column labeled average days to
Ist service. This herd again
shows great disparity between
first lactation and older cows.
Performance differs little
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between second lactation and
older cows with the average
days to first service at 110.
When we look at the first lacta
tion animals, we see a substan
tial difference. Noting that the
performance of the older cows
can be improved reproductively,
the first lactation animals show
a more severe problem. Here we
see these cows being bred for the
first time at over 160 days.
When we see that the first lacta
tion cows make up 45% of the
herd, it is no wonder the overall
herd reproductive performance
is not at all what we would like.
These two evaluations do not
exclusively point to problems
caused by the lack of a transi
tion period. Bunk management
and grouping needs can be indi
cated when first lactation per
formance lags behind the rest of
the herd. The numbers seen for
this herd suggest that the lack
of a prefresh period might initi
ate problems as these new ani
mals come into the herd.
Certainly, getting off to a good
start by proper preparation
should be your first step.
PA DHIA offers a consulta-
♦ Field Crop & Vegetable Consulting
♦ Soil Testing ♦ Precision Ag
♦ Spreader Calibrations
♦ Nutrient Management
♦ IPM / Field Scouting
♦ GPS Soil Testing *
♦ Manure Analysis
tion service to address these
types of concerns. For those of
you who are testing for MUN,
you have the opportunity for a
free farm visit that will help in
record evaluation. Remember,
these are your cows evaluation
what you do...and sometimes
what you do not do.
Average Farm Feed
Costs for Handy
To help farmers across the state to
have handy reference of commodity
input costs in their feeding operations
for DHIA record sheets or to develop
livestock feed cost data, here’s last
week’s average costs of various ingred
ients as compiled from regional reports
across the state of Pennsylvania.
Remember, these are averages, so you
will need to adjust your figures up or
down according to your location and the
quality of your crop.
Corn, No.2y 2.51 bu., 4.49 cwt.
Wheat, N 0.2 2.41 bu., 4.02 cwt.
Barley, N 0.3 —1.75 bu., 3.74 cwt.
Oats, N 0.2 —1.55 bu., 4.84 cwt.
Soybeans, No.l 4.95 bu., 8.25 cwt.
Ear Corn 76.63 ton, 3.83 cwt.
Alfalfa Hay —123.75 ton, 6.19 cwt.
Mixed Hay —122.50 ton, 6.13 cwt.
Timothy Hay —132.50 ton, 6.63 cwt.