A metabolic disease at calving
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.