Lintec supports fertility and improves profitability

Three years ago, David Quick was aware that the calving interval of his pedigree Holstein herd had crept up to an unsatisfactory level. This was making it challenging to manage the condition of high days-in-milk, late lactation cows, as well as negatively impacting profit margins.

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Sam Wall l and David Quick r - ForFarmers UK

“Our calving interval had hit around 425 days, which was much higher than I wanted,” explains David, who runs Poplar Farm, in Highbridge, Somerset. “We also had a high percentage of cows with service intervals between 25-45 days, which indicated that embryonic mortality rates were quite high. There were simply too many cows that couldn’t hold their pregnancy.

“We started looking for a feed supplement that would work in the ration to help support cows nutritionally during the early stages of pregnancy, and Sam suggested that we try Lintec. We’ve now been feeding Lintec for a couple of years now and the results have been very positive.”

Access to grazing

David runs Poplar Farm with his father Tim and herdsperson, Josie Davis. Cow numbers are currently down due to TB, but the business usually manages 140 pedigree Holstein cows, under the Mendip Holstein prefix, on an all-yearround calving basis, with 130 cows going through the 16:16 DeLaval direct line parlour. Average yields usually stand at around 10,800 litres, at 4.2% butterfat and 3.30% protein, with all milk going to Tesco on a Muller contract.

“We have 300 acres in total, with 60 acres going to maize and 20 acres to wheat and both crops being fed back to our cows,” explains David. “The remaining acres are a mix of long-term five-year grass leys and permanent pasture.

“The cow sheds have open access to grass so that cows can go out and graze if they want, and we are aiming to achieve 3-4kg of dry matter per day from grazing.”

Cows are buffer fed all year round and offered a PMR consisting of 40% maize and 60% grass silage, homegrown Alkagrain and a bespoke ForFarmers blend, with the aim to consistently achieve M+30 litres from this base ration throughout the year. Cows are then fed to yield with Optima 18 nuts through the parlour.

“During the autumn and winter the diet stays pretty much the same, but we will increase feeding rates to make up for a lack of grass and we also introduce 500 grams of Lintec per cow, per day,” continues David. “Dry cows are also obviously treated differently, and the close-up group will get a mix of grass and maize silage, along with plenty of straw and TRANSLAC Advance nuts.”

Focus on fertility

David aims to have all heifers in condition for first calving at 24 months or below, having worked hard over recent years to get this age down from around 30 months.

“Heifers will get a first round of sexed semen, and then if needed, a second round with conventional, before sexedbeef. Our higher performing cows will go to sexed before we switch to serving with conventional, and our bottom end cows will all go to beef. We used to use a pedigree Hereford stock bull to sweep any difficult cows, but we lost him to TB and since then we have used AI on all stock,” says David.

Lintec has been part of the cows’ diet for over two years now, with the specific aim of supporting cow fertility. Since including it into the cows’ diet, both the calving interval and the percentage of cows with service intervals between 25-45 days, have declined.

“Many farmers pushing for higher yields have moved away from diets consisting of predominantly grass silage and grazed grass - both of which are high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA),” explains ForFarmers nutritionist, Sam Wall. “Instead, these farmers have naturally moved to diets consisting of feedstuffs high in omega-6 PUFA, such as maize silage, soya bean meal and rapeseed meal.

“The ratio of these two fatty acids is known as the it3 level, and if the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 is too high, then this will have a detrimental impact on cow fertility, and this is exactly what was happening on David’s farm.

“I recommended feeding Lintec because the high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids found in the product help to correct the it3 ratio in the diet. This helps to elevate progesterone levels and suppress prostaglandin, which is beneficial for maternal recognition of pregnancy. All of this helps a cow maintain her pregnancy and reduces the chance of embryo loss in the early stages, following conception.”

David currently feeds Lintec during the autumn and winter period, relying on cows grazing good quality, Omega-3 rich grass during the spring and summer months to provide the nutritional support they need during this time.

“Before we were impacted from TB, our calving interval dropped down to around 390 days, which I am much happier with compared to the 420 days, three years ago,” concludes David. “We now also see a lot less cows with service intervals of 25-45 days, which suggests that more cows are better able to maintain their pregnancy.

“The other benefit has been the cost saving. When we added Lintec into the diet, we stripped out the rumen-protected palm fat supplement that we had been feeding previously, and with no negative impact on cow performance and milk yield. Overall Lintec has proved to be a useful addition to the diet and provides a good return on investment. I don’t plan on taking it out of the ration, any time soon.”

Cow at feed barrier 2

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