Management of the on farm environment for livestock explains much of the variation amongst different farms in milk production. Increasingly producers are realizing that modest investments in housing or changes in their cow management routines can pay large dividends in greater cow health and performance.
Number of cubicle spaces per cow, feeding for refusals and feed push ups are all positively related to herd milk production.
Minimizing time away from feed and lying space is the key to optimal time budgeting. Meeting time budget requirement for resting results in greater milk yield (2kg to 3.5kg per day more) and lower incidence of lameness Expect 1 to 1.5 kg per cow per day more milk whenever cow comfort is improved that results in one more hour of resting time.
Plan on an approximate 10 percent loss in milk from the heifers when they are commingled with older animals . When stocking rate is increased the negative effect is even more pronounced even at low levels of overcrowding (such as 110 to 115 percent of stalls and headlocks).
Optimizing the feeding environment will promote aggressive feeding behaviour and greater dry matter intake which translates into more milk production (for Holsteins, 1kg of dry matter intake translates into 2kg of milk). Lameness results in a loss of nearly 900kg per cow per year of milk annually, greater culling rate and reduced fertility. As feed barrier space decreases from 24 to 12 inches per cow, percentage of cows pregnant by 150 days in milk decreases from 70 to 35 percent