Time is likely to lead to other prob­lems

Irish Examiner - Farming - - DAIRY SECTOR -

lead to aci­do­sis where high lev­els of con­cen­trates are fed. Con­cen­trates should be in­tro­duced very grad­u­ally, es­pe­cially where tran­si­tion feed­ing is not prac­ticed. Ru­men ph sam­ples from sam­ple herds tested by UCD in­di­cated that cows in a quar­ter of herds may suf­fer from sub-acute (usu­ally with no symp­toms) aci­do­sis. This of­ten leads to lamini­tis, re­duces feed in­take, causes neg­a­tive en­ergy bal­ance, ex­cess loss of body con­di­tion in early lac­ta­tion, and re­duces mount­ing be­hav­iour. Nutri­tion re­lated health prob­lems such as sub-acute aci­do­sis are among the most un­der­es­ti­mated prob­lems on Ir­ish dairy farms. In­fer­til­ity, mas­ti­tis, lame­ness and pro­duc­tion prob­lems are very ob­vi­ous to farm­ers, but there are many other very se­ri­ous health prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with hav­ing dry cows be­ing over-fed or un­der­fed, or not be­ing prop­erly sup­ple­mented with min­er­als/ trace el­e­ments.

These in­clude dis­eases such as milk fever, ke­to­sis, fatty liver, aci­do­sis, re­tained pla­cen­tas, metri­tis, dif­fi­cult calv­ings, lamini­tis, lame­ness, mas­ti­tis and dis­placed abo­ma­sums.

And up to 90% of losses as­so­ci­ated with some of these dis­eases can be sub-clin­i­cal or sub-acute, and there­fore may not be ob­vi­ous to farm­ers, but still cost them a lot of prof­its. About 5-7% of cows get clin­i­cal milk fever, where they may go down and re­quire ve­teri­nary treat­ment. How­ever, 20-39% of cows can be af­fected by sub-clin­i­cal milk fever around calv­ing and later, with the fol­low­ing symp­toms;

Re­tained pla­centa/slow calv­ing; Low feed in­takes af­ter calv­ing;

Re­duced im­mune sys­tem; De­layed ovu­la­tion af­ter calv­ing and re­duced fer­til­ity; Low blood cal­cium for up to 45 days af­ter calv­ing.

It is likely that sub clin­i­cal milk fever is caus­ing a lot of un­ex­plained prob­lems on dairy farms.

Where prob­lems are sus­pected, they should be thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated with blood tests etc.

Every farmer should have a milk fever con­trol strat­egy. This should in­clude reg­u­lar body con­di­tion scor­ing, en­sur­ing mag­ne­sium sup­ple­ment is fed (0.4% of diet), and lim­it­ing ac­cess to high-k and high-n for­aged.

The av­er­age Ir­ish silage has 2.3% K but ideally for­age should have less than 1.8% K. Ideally, silage should be tested so that proper di­etary re­quire­ments for all stock can be for­mu­lated.

Dry cow di­ets should be prop­erly sup­ple­mented with high qual­ity min­er­als and trace el­e­ments (Teagasc for­mu­la­tions), es­pe­cially for six weeks be­fore calv­ing. Cows should have suf­fi­cient bulk in their diet, and con­cen­trates should be in­tro­duced to their di­ets a few weeks be­fore calv­ing.

This re­duces the pe­riod of in­ad­e­quate in­take be­fore and af­ter calv­ing.

Pic­ture: Maria Kelly

Na­tional Dairy Show 2018: show judge Ed­ward Grif­fiths and award spon­sor John Houri­gan, Peatbed­ding.ie, and han­dler Sarah Shan­non, with Gabriel Rose 2090, owned by Robert Shan­non, best Jer­sey heifer born in 2018 .

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