Centre for Dairy Excellence

Centre for Dairy Excellence

It gives me great pleasure to introduce myself: I am Mark Youngs, Principal Consultant for the Centre for Dairy Excellence Ltd.

As of the 1 April 2021, TSG Consultants partnered with Vetlife, starting a new agricultural consultancy service called the Centre for Dairy Excellence.

We think that this is one of the first joint ventures between a consultancy and a veterinary business in NZ.  We believe that this collaboration will bring positive changes for everyone involved, benefitting you and the dairy industry alike.

Our vision is to be recognised as the experts in profitable NZ milk production by having fully-fed and healthy cows.

Our values are:

  • The Centre for Dairy Excellence will be a standalone consultancy business independent from suppliers of consumables.
  • Integration of farm consultancy with leading veterinary science
  • Maintenance of up-to-date knowledge of trends and technical standards
  • Leadership in advice for improving profitable milk production and cow nutrition

Current Subjects for Discussion

 Body Condition Scoring

  • It is well known and accepted that achieving the ideal BCS at dry-off is crucial to the proceeding season.
  • The target is BCS 5.0 for cows and 5.5 for heifers.
  • Unfortunately, for whatever reason, this is rarely achieved and we need to put weight on our cows through the dry period.
  • Cows calving 1 BCS lower than target will:
    • Take 8-10 days longer to start cycling, resulting in

later calving dates the following season

  • Produce approximately 15kg less milk solids in the following season
  • Suffer from more metabolic disorders, lameness and mastitis
  • To achieve the ideal BCS you need to supply a dry cow with a balanced, energy-efficient diet.


ME requirements for a dry cow and putting on 0.5 BCS

  • 500kg Cow
    • 500 x 10% + 10 MJME               = 60 MJME
    • Walking                 = 10 MJME
    • Pregnancy                = 12 MJME
    • 5 BCS                = 36 MJME
    • Total                 118 MJME
  • 10MJME/kgDM
    • 118MJME ÷ 10MJME/kgDM = 11.80kgDM eaten
    • Need to add 20% wastage factor
    • 12kgDM + 2.4kgDM = 4kgDM offered


  • 400kg Heifer
    • 370 x 10% + 10MJME                = 47 MJME
    • Walking = 10 MJME
    • Pregnancy = 12 MJME
    • 5 BCS = 36 MJME
    • Total     105 MJME
  • 10MJME/kgDM
    • 105MJME ÷ 10MJME/kgDM  = 10 kgDM eaten
    • Need to add 20% wastage factor
    • 10kgDM + 2kgDM = 12kgDM offered



  • For obvious reasons, you would not start the rugby season without pre-season training. The same goes for cows – transition management is pre-season prep for dairy cows.
  • The transition period begins four weeks before calving and continues until four weeks post calving. It is a period of incredible hormonal, metabolic and physiological change as a cow moves through the late stages of gestation, gives birth to her calf and moves into lactation.
  • We need to cover all of the cow’s nutrient requirements to give the rumen, liver and mammary glands the capacity to deal with so much change. Then the herd will be well positioned to meet early peak milk solids output.
  • Minimising the incidence of metabolic and health disorders during this period will help the cow to achieve maximum production.
  • It is important to transition and help the rumen microbes and papillae to adapt by feeding similar feed sources to the milking diet.
  • Running the springer cows and heifers through the shed allows us to monitor the cows and, at the same time, offering them a small quantity of feed (that is if fed in the shed) will help to develop the rumen papillae.
  • In the transition and early lactation period the energy requirements are generally higher than intake. It is important to offer small amounts of quality feed due to the calf growing rapidly and the rumen shrinking.
  • Dry matter intake declines rapidly 1 – 2 days before calving and remains low for 2 – 3 days after calving.
  • Providing a diet that encourages intake will minimise the loss of body condition, help prevent metabolic and calving issues and maximise production.
  • Giving the cows more pasture breaks little and often will encourage the cows to eat post-calving.
  • Giving the cows time to recover in the colostrum mob is also very advantageous.

Up and coming events

  • June and July
    • 4-hour nutrition course for farmers – Practical Nutrition “Getting more from Less”


Location Date RSVP by
Ashburton 14 June 2021 07 June 2021
Geraldine 16 June 2021 09 June 2021
Oxford 18 June 2021 11 June 2021
Alexandra 02 July 2021 25 June 2021
Oamaru 06 July 2021 29 June 2021
Dunsandel 07 July 2021 1 July 2021


For more information contact:

Katherine Lester 027 325 2442 Email katherine@cfde.co.nz

Mark Youngs 027 693 7664  Email Mark.Youngs@cfde.co.nz


Mark Youngs, Principal Consultant for the Centre for Dairy Excellence Ltd