Car­ing for cows on the move vi­tal

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

Dairy farm­ers should take par­tic­u­lar care when plan­ning to trans­port cows in their third trimester of preg­nancy, DairyNZ’s Dr Nita Hard­ing says.

Dr Hard­ing, who is DairyNZ’s de­vel­op­ment team leader for animal hus­bandry, said that at this time of year, many farm­ers were trans­port­ing cows with well-ad­vanced preg­nan­cies.

‘‘There are sev­eral things farm­ers should be aware of to make sure their preg­nant cows ar­rive at their des­ti­na­tion in the best pos­si­ble con­di­tion,’’ Dr Hard­ing said.

The key is­sue is to al­ways make sure any cows to be trans­ported have a body con­di­tion score of three or higher be­fore trans­port.

‘‘In late preg­nancy even cows that are in good con­di­tion are con­sid­er­ably more sus­cep­ti­ble to the stress of trans­port and need to be treated with pa­tience and care if they are be­ing trans­ported to an­other lo­ca­tion.

‘‘Jour­neys should be as short as pos­si­ble.’’

Care­ful plan­ning was re­quired be­fore preg­nant cows were trans­ported.

‘‘Other than the du­ra­tion of the jour­ney, farm­ers should also con­sider their feed tran­si­tion plan and en­sure the cows re­ceive an ad­e­quate sup­ple­ment of mag­ne­sium be­fore and af­ter the jour­ney,’’ she said. Twelve to 20 grams a day of mag­ne­sium sup­ple­ment should also be pro­vided to preg­nant cows for at least three days be­fore and three days af­ter the jour­ney.

All cows switch­ing from one feed type to an­other re­quires a feed tran­si­tion plan to give their di­ges­tive sys­tem time to ad­just to the new feed, main­tain their con­di­tion and min­imise any nu­tri­tional prob­lems.

Re­mem­ber to con­sider a tran­si­tion plan for com­ing home from win­ter graz­ing, as well as a plan for go­ing to win­ter graz­ing.

New feed should be in­tro­duced into the diet over seven to 10 days be­fore the jour­ney, by grad­u­ally in­creas­ing the amount of the new feed or sup­ple­ment made avail­able. If this could not be done be­fore trans­port, en­sure there was pas­ture at the other end to tran­si­tion cows from.

Dr Hard­ing said cows in late preg­nancy should be treated with pa­tience and care when be­ing brought in and loaded for trans­port. Be­fore trans­port, cows should be moved off green feed for four to 12 hours (max­i­mum) and pro­vided with hay and wa­ter to re­duce the amount of ef­flu­ent pro­duced dur­ing the jour­ney and min­imise nu­tri­tional stress. This was best done on a grazed out pad­dock or stand-off pad rather than on con­crete.

‘‘It is rec­om­mended that cows should not be stood off on con­crete for any more than four hours at a time,’’ she said. ‘‘Any longer is likely to lead to sore feet and legs, and po­ten­tially prob­lems with lame­ness.’’ Re­mem­ber to take as much care with un­load­ing the an­i­mals at their des­ti­na­tion. Food and wa­ter should be pro­vided on ar­rival and the an­i­mals checked, es­pe­cially for signs of bloat, about two hours af­ter ar­rival.

Dr Hard­ing said it was al­ways use­ful to have some­one who was skilled in trans­port­ing an­i­mals to su­per­vise the process on the day of trans­port. Preg­nant cows were valu­able as­sets and worth look­ing af­ter

prop­erly,Dr Hard­ing said.

Cau­tion nec­es­sary: Preg­nant cows are a valu­able as­set and care needs to be taken when trans­port­ing them.

Find more in­for­ma­tion on stock move­ment care at: trans­port­ing­stock.

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