A metabolic dis­ease at calv­ing

Irish Examiner - Farming - - DAIRY SECTOR -

There is a large re­duc­tion in feed in­take and en­ergy bal­ance (about 50%) in the weeks be­fore calv­ing.

Where man­age­ment and feed qual­ity are not suitable, there is an in­creased risk of: slow and dif­fi­cult calv­ing and re­tained pla­centa; fatty liver and ke­to­sis; dis­placed abo­ma­sums; re­duced feed in­take and pro­duc­tion af­ter calv­ing; re­duced fer­til­ity; and im­muno­sup­pres­sion, leav­ing an­i­mals sus­cep­ti­ble to other dis­eases.

The weeks lead­ing up to calv­ing, and in early lac­ta­tion un­til cows are back in calf, are ex­tremely im­por­tant times for proper nutri­tion. Metabolic dis­eases around calv­ing time and in early lac­ta­tion cause ma­jor losses on many farms and ac­count for much of the huge dif­fer­ence in prof­itabil­ity be­tween sim­i­lar type farms.

The risks are greater in cows that are bred for high yields. Pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures are es­sen­tial; oth­er­wise, one prob­lem is likely to lead to oth­ers. For ex­am­ple, cows that get milk fever are eight times more likely to get other prob­lems.

Tran­si­tion feed­ing of a few kilo­grams of prop­erly bal­anced con­cen­trates for a few weeks prior to calv­ing is very suc­cess­ful in many herds as it min­imises the re­duc­tion in in­take be­fore calv­ing, and con­di­tions the ru­men for higher lev­els of con­cen­trates af­ter calv­ing.

This is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant in high yield­ing early calv­ing herds where fairly high lev­els of con­cen­trates are fed af­ter calv­ing and where grass is not avail­able for six weeks. A sud­den change in diet af­ter calv­ing can po­ten­tially

Na­tional Dairy Show 2018: Rickey Bar­rett re­ceives the Pre­mier Ex­hibitor award from award spon­sor Sean O’flynn, The Farm Store.

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