The Biarritz Course in Nutrition: Providing an On-Farm Service
This is the 8th annual running of this course which also forms Part II of the “Feeding the Dairy Cow” Course. The course runs from the 24th to the 27th September 2013. A brief synopsis follows:
Systems, Formulation and Monitoring
The practical delivery of nutrition advice relies on maximising a farmer’s milk contract to its full potential within the constraints of his or her farming system. The first part of the course focuses on recognising these constraints and seeing the potential to be gained from changing them. For example the feeding system that would be profitable for a 350 cow, 10 000 litre herd in Dorset may be very different from a 100 cow, 8000 litre herd in Cumbria, do you go with a total TMR, feeding in parlour, use computerised out of parlour feeders or just turn the cows out to grass?
We go onto look at the assessment of feeds. The aim is to be able to realistically assess the physical and chemical characteristics of forages and concentrates and how they may add or detract from a ration. We discuss the pitfalls and provide practical guidelines for the simple assessment of a ration’s physical properties which frequently have a greater bearing on cow health than the actual chemical formulation. This is placed in a practical context so you can start doing it tomorrow.
Computer models are much abused or treated with suspicion. We will provide a simple approach to on farm formulation, emphasising what’s important and what’s not to ensure the health and productivity of you herds.
Having covered the theory we look in depth at the latest methods available to aggressively monitor the ration’s effect on the cow, her health, her fertility and the economics of the milk she produces. This is fundamental to the course. If you are armed with an ability to monitor herd responses to rations that have been very accurately characterised, then the cows will teach you all there is to know about their feeding.
Grazing and Bunk Management “The art of feeding”
For many farms in the UK grass either grazed or fed as silage accounts for over half the dry matter intake of the cows. Improving efficiency via the optimal use of grazing and maximising the productivity of the grassland can therefore have a large impact on reducing feed costs and consequent improvements in profitability whatever the management system.
Areas covered include grazing behaviour in lactating dairy cows, aspects of grazing management including grass growth, rotational grazing, stocking rate and how to assess swards for quantity and quality and how to maximise sward production. The planning of grazing and further practical considerations such as the management of turn out, field access, rotation length and how to cope with shortfalls and surpluses in grazing are discussed. The supplementation of grazing is reviewed focusing on how to maximise the production response while minimising the pasture intake reduction and the common nutritional shortfalls of feeding grass.
One of the centre points of the course and one of the reasons that the course was initially conceived was the issue of bunk management. Far too often too much attention is paid to ration formulation and far too little to the feeding management of the cows. This is despite the fact that it is often the latter that is creating the problem. Feed bunk management can be defined as the “art of feeding”.
Milk Fever, Ketosis and LDAs - a scientific approach to prevention
Metabolic disease problems are frequently encountered on farm and a proactive approach to prevention is advocated. Prevention requires an understanding of the likely causes.
For milk fever prevention the “full DCAD” and “semi DCAD” approaches are discussed. Both approaches have different strengths and weaknesses and their application on farm requires knowledge of the feeding and management practices adopted on farm to decide which is more suitable.
LDA’s or twisted stomachs are so diverse in their aetiology that a full understanding of the potential risk factors is needed in order to make a ‘diagnosis’ and choose the correct preventative strategy. what works on one farm, may make the issue worse on another if you get this wrong! A full review of the latest science is undertaken.
Trace elements and Minerals
There is a lot of false information about minerals and trace elements and their affect’s on fertility, heath and production. An evidence based approach to supplementation is needed to decide when supplementation is likely to be beneficial, a waste of money or even potentially toxic. A brief review of the literature on more commonly encountered trace elements and vitamins is undertaken to demystify this area and to see under what management circumstances problems with deficiencies may be encountered. Copper, Vitamin E, biotin, beta-carotene and manganese are among the topics discussed.
Vets have always been nutrition “trouble-shooters’. Although they don’t tend to formulate the rations, their role is to observe the cows’ response to it, to criticise the way it is fed and to highlight erroneous assumptions. With the amount of information that can now be accessed, exchanged and shared between members of the farm management team, the vets need to be equipped even better to understand and advise.
The course in Biarritz on Dairy cow nutrition provided the necessary tools to help the dairy
practitioner provide an effective role in this area. The team of tutors knew their subjects well
and presented their lectures in an informal style allowing for easy discussion with the delegates.
Biarritz was fun; the hotel was pleasant and the food was excellent. The experience was just the ticket
for any busy practitioner - provided you switched off your mobile phone!
Jonathan Harwood MRCVS Stock First, Petersfield, Hampshire
With low-cost airline flights on the increase, Biarritz is now easily accessible to cattle vets around the UK for CPD courses, surfing or indeed both. Basing the course in a hotel situated on a golf course, and next to the beach, with a timetable that allowed a few hours to relax after lunch, was nothing short of a brainwave. The course was very well thought out and covered all of the relevant areas of practical decision-making in cattle nutrition that are needed to provide a nutritional service to our clients. The course is particularly useful in building on the knowledge learnt on the “Feeding the Dairy Cow” course run by Tom Chamberlain and James Husband.
We would like to congratulate Alastair, James and Richard in producing a valuable and stimulating course for cattle vets and nutritionists who want to stay ahead of the game.
Clare Finn-Kelcey MRCVS, ADAS, Somerset
Bill May MRCVS, Lambert Leonard and May, Nantwich, Chesire
Dr Julian Allen MRCVS, Friars Moor Veterinary Clinic, Sturminster Newton, Dorset
Jonathan Harwood MRCVS Stock First, Petersfield, Hampshire
Richard Knight MRCVS, Westmorland Veterinary Group, Kendal, Cumbria
Jonathan Statham MRCVS, Bishopton Veterinary Group, Ripon. N.Yorks