Dealing with heat stress is a constant struggle for Florida dairyman Sutton Rucks of Milking R in Okeechobee, Fla. This 1,350-cow dairy is located in one of the United States’ hottest regions where average highs range in the upper 80s to low 90s from May through October. “We battle heat 10 months out of the year here,” says Rucks. “When farming in this part of the country, you must do everything you can to prevent hot weather from stealing your milk production and prolonging time to conception.”
At the advice of his nutritionist, Dr. Bruno do Amaral, Rucks started feeding Rally® Dairy Feed to fresh cows in early August 2013, when temperatures were hottest. Milking R also utilizes sprinklers/soakers on their feed lines and in the holding pens as well as in the milking parlor exit lane. In addition, they run 125 fans in each 600-cow free stall barn.
“We started seeing nice gains on fresh-cow milk production just three weeks after adding Rally to the ration,” notes Rucks. “Second-lactation cows were up 6 pounds of milk; and we had a 9-pound increase on cows in their third or higher lactation. The most amazing thing is that we saw the greatest production growth during our harshest month – September. Septembers are horrendously hot in south Florida.”
Rucks is earning a 3.3:1 return over his Rally Dairy Feed investment on second-lactation cows and 5:1 return on third-lactation animals. Rally Dairy Feed is fed to all mature fresh cows at Milking R for approximately 60 days as an aid for increasing peak milk production. “An extra pound of peak milk converts to several hundred pounds of additional milk per lactation,” adds Rucks, ultimately enhancing profitability potential.
Feeding 1.1 lbs. of Rally Dairy Feed per head per day, the plan is to use the product seasonally during the most intense summer heat. However, in their first year of implementing Rally Dairy Feed, Rucks says they’ve continued feeding it into December as temperatures linger in the 80s.
Getting cows to reach their production potential sooner after calving is a primary goal of Milking R. “We’re striving for higher milk weights on a cow’s first test,” Rucks points out. “If we keep the front curve higher to get more milk throughout her lactation, then even her low curve will be higher than before. Since we’re acquiring more milk from our fresh cows right off the bat, this translates to improved feed efficiency as well.”
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Results not typical due to variables present in all farm operations. Because of factors outside of Purina Animal Nutrition LLC’s control, individual results to be obtained, including but not limited to: financial performance, animal condition, health or performance cannot be predicted or guaranteed by Purina Animal Nutrition LLC.