Act on cow body condition now!

26 February 2018

Cows in good condition are generally healthier and therefore better equipped to deal with adversity and diseases like uterine infections and parasites. They also produce more milk and have better reproductive performance measures. Good condition refers to a body condition score (BCS) of five for cows and 5.5 for second calvers and the time to get your cows in good condition for calving is now.

There are several strategies for achieving this depending on whether the cows are early or late calving. Late calvers offer more options as you have more time. Early calvers may need drying off if they are unable to produce milk, grow their foetus and gain condition fast enough.

Late calvers can go on once-a-day (OAD) milking – they’ll receive the same feed input but their requirements for milk production will be lower and the balance can go towards weight gain. For both early and late calvers, additional feed could be an option.

Regardless of your preference, lighter cows should be targeted with a worm treatment. During autumn and early winter, cattle will be picking up more larvae with their grass than at any other time of year. The warm weather, coupled with increasingly dewy nights, makes for perfect worm larval development.

Newly-ingested larvae and existing worm burdens are detrimental in two ways. First, they damage the gut lining so nutrients aren’t absorbed as well. Second, they divert the protein and energy needed for milk production or weight gain to the immune system to prevent larvae from establishing or to get rid of the adult parasites.

This can add up to considerable amounts of resource being wasted. Local and international trials1,2,3,4 using mainly long-acting drench products against the worms have shown significantly increased milk production after treatment.

In a New Zealand trial1, cows treated in late lactation with Cydectin® Pour-On produced on average four kilograms (kg) more milk solids (MS) in the last 80 days before drying off than their untreated herd mates. At $6.50 per kgMS, that’s $26 which could easily be won back by drenching (not to mention the potential weight gain).

Younger animals are even more prone to parasites because their immunity is less developed and the worms are more likely to cause damage. They too are exposed to large numbers of parasites, especially if forced to graze lower than ideal.

This is when long-acting treatments for both younger stock and cows are of real benefit. Persistently-acting products, like Cydectin Pour-On, continue to kill incoming larvae for a longer period of time, including Ostertagia ostertagi larvae for 35 days.

Cydectin Pour-On has nil withholding times for milk, meat and bobby calves, so it’s a great choice to keep around the dairy shed. It kills both biting and sucking lice, which are problematic in late autumn and winter. If you think your cows are a bit on the light side, consider a worm treatment and the best strategy to help them gain that weight back.

Cydectin is a registered trade mark of Zoetis. ACVM No. A6203. References:

  1. Murphy,A. The effect of treatment with moxidectin, a long-acting endectocide, on milk production in lactating dairy cows. XX World Buiatrics Congress, 1998
  2. Geurden T et al. A multi-country study to assess the effect of a treatment with moxidectin pour-on during the dry period on milk production in dairy cows. Veterinary Parasitology, 2017.
  3. Sanchez, J. et al A meta-analysis of the milk-production response after anthelmintic treatment in naturally-infected adult dairy cows. Prev. Vet Medicine, 2004
  4. McPherson, WB, Effect of a peri-parturient eprinomectin treatment of dairy cows on milk production. New Zealand Veterinary Journal 49(3), 106-110, 2001.

For more information, talk to your local Farm Source TSR today.

Article supplied by Zoetis New Zealand Limited