In the face of growing world demand for dairy products it may be comforting to know that the genetic potential of cows to produce higher quantities of milk increases year after year. However, this places an enormous challenge on the metabolic system of the cow, not to mention its overall health.
A critical phase for ruminants is the transition from the dry cow period to lactation. Problems during this period often cause disease and sub-optimal production. Trouw Nutrition offers a range of products and services that can help the farmer to manage this transition in the best possible way.
Here is a typical example of how to manage the transition effectively.
Milk fever is still a problem on many farms. In an average herd, for every cow with clinical milk fever there are 5 cows with so-called sub-clinical milk fever. These animals don’t show the usual signs of milk fever but still have a low blood calcium level that reduces their immunity, cuts dry matter intake, and results in a poor start to lactation.
Several aspects of dry cow management need to be addressed to ensure the correct body condition score (BCS) at calving and the right amount of minerals during the dry cow period. Sufficient magnesium is particularly important, to avoid low blood calcium levels. It’s also crucial to reduce the amount of calcium fed during the dry cow period. This will ‘train’ the metabolic system of the cow to utilise calcium from the diet to the maximum level once milk production starts.
Trouw Nutrition provides nutritional services to optimise the diet. Our latest solution, Calfix, binds calcium selectively and is fed during those last two weeks of the dry cow period. It is removed from the diet immediately after calving so that the amount of calcium in the feed goes up again. The cow can now utilise calcium much more efficiently. This can be followed up with Farm-O-San Reviva, a post-calving drink containing high amounts of calcium that has been shown to increase blood calcium levels after calving.