EBBE Meeting Sees High Yielding Italian Dairy

EU - In May, members of the European Board of Bovine Experts (EBBE) met in Milan, Italy to discuss dairy cow nutrition and how, when done correctly, it can improve milk production.
calendar icon 18 July 2012
clock icon 3 minute read
EBBE - European Board Of Bovine Experts

Digestive limitations of high yielding cows

A presentation by Professor Daniel Sauvant, from INRA, discussed the digestive limitations of high yielding cows fed a high dry matter intake (DMI) diet.

The outcomes of his presentation were that whilst high yielding cows are generally much more efficient, they have a poor digestive capacity. A high DMI diet will dramatically decrease the energy content of the diet. Although a high level of concentrate increases DMI, it only slightly improves the organic matter digestibility, due to negative digestive interactions between DMI and the amount of concentrates.

Fresh cow diets essential

Mary Beth de Ondarza, a dairy nutrition consultant from the US, looked at transition cow diets to improve metabolic health and productivity. She looked at not only cow diets, pre and post calving but also cow management.

She said it was essential to keep cows eating throughout the transition period, to reduce the risk of milk fever and subsequent metabolic issues. Ms de Ondarza advised keeping fresh cows in a separate pen and feeding them a tailored diet, which provides the nutrients needed to rapidly increase milk yield and DMI.

High yielding farm improving fertility

Located outside Milan, in the highest milk producing region in Europe, Az. Agricola Molino Terenzano is one of the high profile farms in the area. Dr Paola Amodeo, an Italian dairy consultant, took the European Board of Bovine Experts (EBBE) to visit the farm and the Locatelly Family.

The farm milks 800 cows, twice a day. In recent years, the family, run by two brothers and a cousin, has paid a lot of intention to improving the herd genetics and is now using only Italian sires.

Heifers are reared on a separate facility and return to the main holding five months before calving. The farm sells around 60-70 pregnant heifers a year.

The farm has recently started to double ovsynch to improve fertility and conception rates. The conception rate is slowly increasing, and now stands at 30 per cent, with a 15 per cent pregnancy rate.

Heat detection rates were 50 per cent, but since hormones have been introduced this has increased to 60 per cent.

The herd average for milk production is high yielding at 10,600 litres per annum (11 tons/ cow/ annum).

Further information

EBBE was established in April 2011 by DSM Nutritional products. EBBE is an independent advisory board that offers guidance and advice based on current scientific knowledge, management practices, genetics, veterinary science and nutritional requirements.

EBBE is in the process of establishing a website to communicate and publish these discussions. More details of this will follow soon.

EBBE board members include specialists in cattle genetics (Dr John Cook from the UK), in veterinary reproduction (Professor Jo Leroy from the University of Antwerp, Belgium), in feed processing (Dr Mary Beth de Ondarza, USA), in veterinary science & cattle nutrition (Dr Carsten Zech, Germany, and Professor Daniel Sauvant of INRA, France), dairy farm management consultants (Dr Paola Amodeo from Italy and Dr James Husband from UK), and professors from the Universities of Barcelona, Copenhagen and Potsdam (Dr Casamiglia and Professor Enevoldsen, and Dr Schweigert respectively).

Further Reading

For more information on the European Board of Bovine experts (EBBE) click here.

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