Gavin Rodda runs a 330-cow dairy herd at Rosemorran Farm, Cornwall, producing an average of 9,500 litres. The milk is produced under contract for Cathedral City branded cheese, which demands constituents and quality of the milk are consistently high and butterfats at 4 per cent or over.
To assist in meeting these standards Gavin sought the help of a nutritionist, Andy Hawken, from Three Counties Feeds. Andy says: “The challenge when taking over this farm, as their nutritionist, was to improve the milk constituents and keep the yield high. One of the tools in the armoury to achieve this was the addition of pre-chopped, short straw to the ration.”
“When out to grass, traditionally butterfats crash but by adding chopped straw to the ration we have seen butterfats at over 4 per cent in the summer and in the winter up to 4.3 per cent. Also, the proteins have stayed stable at 3.3 per cent in the summer and 3.6 per cent in the winter.”
Andy says: “When you use chopped straw as part of a balanced diet you need to add extra protein to help improve rumen function otherwise you could cause straw impaction which can lead to major health problems for the animal.”
Gavin says: “At first we used a contractor to chop our straw but this became a costly and time consuming process. So, we contacted Teagle; they recommended the New Tomahawk 8555 Dual Chop with a removable screen which we can use for both feeding and bedding.
The unique scissor action, cutting mechanism of the Teagle Dual Chop cuts the straw consistently short and is the ideal material for feeding, creating effective rumen stimulation. Gavin adds: “The straw is chopped short with clean cut ends. By chopping as needed keeps the straw fresh which the cows find more palatable, increasing intake and reducing waste for the dung pile!”
Andy explains: “We want to reduce the length of the straw significantly from the traditional ‘muzzle width’ to produce multiple scratching effect on to the papillae (which are like little fingers). More scratching stimulates more papillae, creating more surface area and increasing the nutrients back into the cow. It’s achieved by chopping the straw consistently in the correct way.”
Gavin concludes: “Apart from improving proteins and butterfats since incorporating the chopped straw into the diet we have also seen improvements in cow health, condition and fertility. We experienced no LDAs from last winter and continuing into this year.”
For more information regarding Teagle’s Dual Chop, click HERE.