Failing to adequately support yields and body condition as grass intakes drop through late summer could cut yields by 1.9 litres per cow for the first three months of winter.

This warning comes from KW senior nutritionist Dr Anna Sutcliffe.

Dr Sutcliffe said: “That’s the potential cost of regaining 0.5 BCS (body condition score) once cows are fully housed, and at 26ppl it represents a loss of around £8,900 for a typical 200-cow herd.

“Yet providing the additional energy needed for those cows to retain that condition through the summer can cost as little as £2,500.”

As grass dry matter intake (DMI) drops with falling daylight hours, Dr Sutcliffe therefore recommends splitting the herd. Make cows over 150 days work harder to utilise grazed grass and dry off at no more than BCS 3.0, but increase buffer feed intakes for early lactation cows, she advises.

She continued “Moist feeds and liquid feeds are ideal to help drive intakes, and if necessary house cows overnight.

“Include sugar beet feed or soya hulls to support good rumen function, and for starch consider rumen-friendly options such as soda-wheat or a confectionery blend. To help minimise feed costs, switch from soyabean meal to heat-treated rapeseed expeller.”