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Some of the most significant opportunities to increase production efficiency and reproductive health come from supporting dairy cows as they transition from late pregnancy to early lactation. While many traditional systems have a hands-off approach to the transition period, it is now considered one of the most critical times of the year, with as much as 80 percent of all health issues related to this period.
Thankfully, there are now ways to reduce the incidence of milk fever significantly. NutriMin® Springer Cow Balancer is a convenient solution that addresses many of the causes of milk fever in New Zealand dairy cows.
Feeding NutriMin® Springer Cow Balancer in the two-three weeks before calving helps set the cow up to meet the significant demand for calcium (Ca) at calving. It also helps to boost immunity through the inclusion of vitamins, essential trace minerals and the world's first commercially available primary antioxidant, MeloFeed®, which is only available from Nutritech.
If we take the average dairy farm in New Zealand of 440 cows, 385 kilograms of milksolids per cow (kgMS/cow) with a 268 days lactation length and apply similar numbers published by DairyNZ2 for clinical and sub-clinical cases of milk fever into the Nutritech Milk Fever Calculator, the cost of milk fever to the farmer is $7,500 per 100 cows (similar to the number of $8,000 per 100 cows published by DairyNZ2). Minimising these losses by feeding NutriMin® Springer Cow Balancer results in return on investment to the farmer of approximately 4:13.
A proactive approach is crucial in minimising issues associated with metabolic diseases, particularly their influences on fertility. Start early to identify at-risk cows with a history of milk fever or in less-than-ideal conditions before drying off. It would be preferable to feed them over and above their production requirement now to ensure they are in suitable condition at drying off.
In addition to NutriMin® Springer Cow Balancer, you can drench at-risk cows with JumpStart® before and just after calving as this contains high levels of (>400 millilitres) of mono propylene glycol (MPG), and two forms of highly available Ca.
Taking feed tests of all the ingredients in the transition diet and running them through DietCheck® also helps assess the risk and helps to decide on the best feed ingredients for the transition period. For instance, if the pasture is high in DCAD,this will follow through to any silage made from it.
Simple management changes, such as transitioning cows onto new feeds, will allow both rumen papillae and microbes to adapt to the new diet before a significant stress period. For instance, stepping cows off fodder beet can reduce the "shock" of a dietary change.
Also, live yeasts, such as Levucell®SC, have shown promising results for reducing inflammation in the rumen during this period4. Levucell®SC live yeast, and other unique ingredients such as Rumensin® and CholiPearl®, are shown to help reduce the incidence of fatty liver post calving and can all be added to the NutriMin® Springer Cow Balancer range.
Finally, including a high-quality protected fat such as GoldenFlake® in the diet straight after calving has demonstrated positive returns on investment through improvements in milk yield, milk composition and fertility. Energy-dense feeds, such as protected fats, can assist in increasing energy intakes during periods of high energy demand when intakes are limited and minimise body condition score (BCS) loss.
If you would like help to plan your transition program, don't delay. Now's the time to call your local Nutritech Area Manager to discuss how they can help you develop a successful transition programme, using DietCheck® rationing programming and technical support from qualified nutritionists.
1 New Zealand Dairy Statistics 2019-20, DairyNZ and LIC 2 DairyNZ Technical Series June 2012 3 Values calculated using the Nutritech Milk Fever Calculator assuming a $7.50/kgMS payout, a replacement cow value of $2,000, a production level of 385kgMS/cow, a 268-day lactation and DairyNZ data on milk production losses associated with death (0.2 percent), clinical (three percent) and sub-clinical milk fever (30 percent) of the herd 4 Changes in gene expression in the rumen and colon epithelia during the dry period through lactation of dairy cows, and effects of live yeast supplementation. Bach et al. Journal of Dairy Science 2018; 101:2631–2640
Article supplied by Nutritech International Limited.