Controlled-energy dry cow diets are recommended for use in the far-off dry period in one- or two-group management systems. This dietary approach has been successful on some, but not all, dairies. The reason for this may be attributed to an unsuccessful transition from a controlled-energy diet to a fresh-cow diet. Unfortunately, there is limited research looking at fresh-cow diets, especially following a controlled-energy diet fed for a 60- or 40-day dry period.
Recently, researchers at the Miner Agricultural Research Institute evaluated the effect of dietary starch content in corn silage-based diets fed in early lactation on performance and blood metabolites following a shortened (40-day) dry period where a controlled-energy diet was fed.
The study found that lower starch diets (≤ 23%) can support milk production following a controlled-energy dry cow diet. It also found that a step-up approach for increasing dietary starch in early lactation is beneficial for cows coming off of a controlled-energy dry cow diet.
For example, cows fed a medium-starch diet (23.2%) for the first 21 days in milk, followed by a high-starch diet (25.5%) for the next 70 days in milk, had higher milk yield than cows fed a high-starch diet (25.5%) for the first 91 days in milk, says Heather Dann with the Miner Institute. These results indicate the benefit of using a step-up feeding approach for starch when a controlled-energy dry cow diet is fed.
See the December 2011 Miner Institute Farm Report for more study details.
Source: Miner Agricultural Research Institute