What do you know about a cow’s transition period – one of the most important periods of a dairy cow’s life? In this week’s edition of Farmers Inside Track, we are joined by Wihan Kitshoff, ruminant technical advisor at Meadow Feeds, who explains the importance of this transition and why dairy farmers should treat transition cows differently.
On this episode, powered by Meadow Feeds – a market leader in the Southern African animal feed industry – Kitshoff explains that it is important that these cows should be treated differently, as well as kept separately and fed a different ration.
According to him, dairy farmers who are willing to invest time and money in this important transition phase can easily reach the maximum potential of their extensive reach.
“It has been shown that cows that are managed and [fed] correctly during this transition phase, reach a pre-production of about 2.5 litres higher than average and produce about 500 litres of milk more per lactation,” Kitshoff says.
He adds that the incidence of transitional cow diseases is about 25% lower, and the days open per cow are also significantly less.
Therefore, the dairy farmer must be committed to the following: keeping transition cows separate; providing additional steam up and fresh cow rations; and elongating a person to specifically pay attention to the transition animals.
“If you take an average milk price of R6 a litre, and feed cost of dry master base [at] R5 per kilogram, and feed efficiency of 1.3 litres per kilogram, the additional income would be R3 000 per cow. The additional feed cost would be around R1 900 and the extra margin over the feed cost would be around R1 000,” he explains.
Farmers should look at solar energy
Author and energy expert James Steyn also joins the episode. He warns that, should Eskom continue to deteriorate with limitations on new generation capacity, stage 8 load shedding is possible.
Steyn also explains why electricity is going to get increasingly expensive in South Africa for the short to medium term. Furthermore, it will become increasingly unreliable.
“For Eskom to be able to ensure no load shedding, it’s got to be above 70% generally.” At the moment, it’s trending at around 60%, which is a very worrying situation.
“Additionally, we’ve had blackouts since 2007. It is now 2022. And in the last two to three years, we have not had a single new megawatt of new generation capacity added to the grid,” he says.
In terms of addressing the problem, Steyn adds that it appears that there is a lack of urgency, particularly at the national government level.
He underscores how expensive electricity is, especially for rural farmers, and suggests that farmers opt for solar systems.
“We have got very good solar capacities and, especially for farmers, I would imagine it’s a very viable solution to look at renewable energy, particularly solar.”
“Simply because you don’t have to then rely on Eskom’s long power lines to also bring electricity to what is often a very rural area. You might have cable theft that might be occurring that adds to the problem.”
According to Steyn, getting off the grid in a rural community, especially in a farming area, is a very good option to explore.
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