Op­ti­mis­ing con­di­tion

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

Hav­ing your herd in op­ti­mal con­di­tion score at calv­ing is one of the main driv­ers to­wards achiev­ing ex­cel­lent re­pro­duc­tive per­for­mance.

Stud­ies have shown that the de­sired range of con­di­tion scores is to have the ma­jor­ity of the herd be­tween 5.0 and 5.5. No more than 15 per cent of the herd should be be­low 5.0 and no more than 15 per cent above 5.5.

Cows should be mon­i­tored now and dried off ac­cord­ing to their con­di­tion so they achieve these tar­gets.

Try­ing to put con­di­tion onto cows af­ter June 1 is dif­fi­cult, so the aim should be to have cows reach­ing these tar­gets by June 1 with the aim of at least be­ing able to main­tain con­di­tion through the win­ter, if things get tight.

As a rule of thumb, the guide on page 65 of The In­Calf Book from DairyNZ can be used to as­sess when cows should be dried off. The book is a free from DairyNZ. To or­der a copy visit their web­site www. dairynz. co. nz or phone 0800 4 DAIRYNZ (0800 4 324 7969).

There are is­sues this year that are likely to have an im­pact on dry­ing off de­ci­sion, one be­ing the pay­out.

With pro­jec­tions of the pay­out be­ing ex­tremely good, there is no doubt a temp­ta­tion to milk cows for as long as pos­si­ble.

The down­side of this pol­icy is hav­ing cows calve in less than de­sired con­di­tion with poorer pro­duc­tion and poorer re­pro­duc­tive per­for­mance likely in spring.

It may be that the pay­out next sea­son will be less. Is hav­ing your herd pro­duc­ing poorly in a lower pay­out a wise move?

Cows will nat­u­rally lose weight in early lac­ta­tion. This is a phys­i­o­log­i­cal change in the cow and will oc­cur re­gard­less of how much feed you are of­fer­ing. Please re­fer to page 56 of The In­calf Book from DairyNZ.

The aim is to min­imise this loss by main­tain­ing good feed­ing lev­els and by hav­ing the herd in a high enough body con­di­tion at the start of the calv­ing. A cow calv­ing at a 5.0 con­di­tion score will cy­cle on av­er­age one to two weeks ear­lier than a cow at con­di­tion score 4.0.

Rec­om­mended score times ( based DairyNZ and In­Calf guide­lines)

1. End of mat­ing to check where the herd is trend­ing

2. Late lac­ta­tion 3 to 4 months be­fore PSC (dry off de­ci­sions)

3. Just be­fore PSC – have you achieved your tar­gets?

4. Two weeks be­fore PSM to as­sess con­di­tion loss af­ter calv­ing

The aim should be to have your herd in the de­sired band through­out the year. For more in­for­ma­tion or to book your herd in for a con­di­tion score please con­tact Mata­mata Ve­teri­nary Ser­vices on 888 8197.

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Cows: Con­di­tion can be scored in­di­vid­u­ally or a mob count can be done by walk­ing through the herd while they are graz­ing.

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