Feeding your animals well increases your income. Dairy cows require a balanced diet for milk production, body maintenance and good health. The animals should have adequate water at all times so the animal can take as much as it needs. No dairy cow, no matter how good the breed, can remain productive without proper management, especially feeding. The amount and quality of milk produced by the animal is largely affected by what it is fed on and how feeding is done. If the cow is grazed in a farm with little pasture and water and housed in dirty sheds littered with cow dung and urine, the result is poor milk yield and incidences of diseases. In addition to selecting good breeds, proper feeding, housing and handling of dairy cows are sure ways of getting good yields and income.
Nutrient and feed requirements of a dairy cow
The feed requirements for lactating cows are different from that of calves and heifers. The amount of feed provided to the cows depends on the amount of milk it produces, its weight, temperature and levels of activity.
Provide fodder with enough dry matter
Fodder crops like Napier grass are considered the most important feed in feeding dairy cattle as they provide energy for body maintenance, milk production, growth, weight gain and reproduction. Fodder crops also contain roughage (fibre) which helps in digestion and improves the levels of milk fat.
Provide enough protein in Feeds
Protein is the second most important component of the diet. It builds the cow’s body and helps in milk production. Adequate protein in the diet also helps microorganisms in the rumen (stomach) convert the roughage into nutrients.