Extension > Agriculture > Dairy Extension > Transition cows > Top 10 strategies to improve early lactation performance for higher peak milk yield
Getting cows off to a good start and successful navigation through early lactation is critical to the health and performance of the cow and has significant impact on reproductive performance and cow profitability. Peak milk is defined as the highest recorded test day milk production in a cow's first 150 days in milk (DIM) and has historically been used as a benchmark to determine the success of dry period and early lactation nutrition and management. Peak milk production is an indication of how well the cow responded to feeding management during the dry period, calving, and early lactation periods.
Most cows achieve peak milk by 45 to 90 DIM and then slowly lose production over time. It is commonly cited that each pound of additional peak milk forecasts 200 to 250 pounds more milk for the entire lactation. Understanding how nutrition and management during the transition period impacts cow performance does not have to be complicated. Interactions of nutrition and metabolic and other health disorders in early lactation that impact peak milk are demonstrated in Figure 1. For example, the Risk, Low Dietary Fiber diet/sorting, can lead to Rumen Acidosis, which can result in Lameness or Displaced Abomasum, either of which can cause Reduced Peak Milk.