Now is a good time to have a plan

Now is a good time to have a plan

11 May 2020

Up until a few weeks ago, it may have seemed far too early to be thinking about springer cows.

However, given the recent circumstances, now is a good time to plan your pre- calving programme to ensure the best health and performance of your herd come spring.

How you split your mobs as dry cows can infuence the effectiveness of your springer or transition programme, and how easy it is to manage. Getting organised now can also provide time to feed test any pasture and silages to be used in the springer diet, and to come up with a plan for your pre- calving nutrition programme.

As with all good plans, a good springer programme is relevant to your situation. Not every pre- calving diet has the same feeds, and risk factors vary from paddock to paddock. It is important to get good advice that is specific for your farm. One that looks at the complete nutrition picture. Fortunately, all of this can still be done online or via a phone call and often it only takes small adj ustments to see the massive animal welfare and financial benefits of a good springer programme.

Often the focus is on magnesium (Mg) during the springer period. However, while Mg is important in helping release calcium (Ca) from the bone stores, it is not the only nutrient involved in the process. It can also be an issue, increasing milk fever, if it is overfed.

Addressing the 'Dietary Cation Anion Difference' or DCAD is req uired in many situations where the ‘cations’ in the diet, such as potassium (K) and sodium (Na), outweigh the ‘ anions’ such as chlorides and sulphates. A diet that has a DCAD greater than 200mEq / kgDM (unfortunately this applies to most pasture- based systems in New Zealand), means the cow won’ t be setup to release Ca from its bone store come calving time, irrespective of how much Mg is being added to the diet.

In addition, vitamin D (the "sunshine" vitamin) also plays an important role in the mobilisation of Ca from bone stores and is often deficient in spring diets. Running your specific feeds through the DietCheckTM programme can help identify the DCAD risk for your situation, helping you better plan the use of supplementary feeds during this period.

Antioxidants and trace elements aren’ t often thought about but are incredibly important as cow antioxidant demand increases significantly at calving, at the same time as intake of antioxidants from pasture decreases. Suppling Alkosel® organic selenium, vitamin E and primary antioxidant enzymes such as Melofeed® are critical to the health and immunity of the cow.

Melofeed is a world-first primary antioxidant and the only one available in NZ. This uniq ue ingredient has been added to our NutriMin® Springer Cow Balancer, along with vitamins (A, D and E) which also play an important role in cow health and immunity at calving.

The transition from dry to springer to colostrum to milker can involve many dietary changes. 1A recent study has scientifically demonstrated that Levucell® SC live yeast improves rumen wall integrity and limits infammatory status of rumen epithelium during the transition period of lactating cows , meaning more of the nutrients are available to the cow. In addition, Levucell SC helps stabilise rumen pH and helps increase fibre digestion. The actions of Levucell SC and Rumensin® are synergistic in helping to prevent acidosis.

The NutriMin Springer Cow Balancer range provides a comprehensive pre- calving nutrition support package that addresses many of the fundamentals of a healthy springer cow programme outlined in this article. With a holistic approach to cow health and nutrition, Nutritech can help you reduce the incidence and impact of milk fever in your herd.

To assess the true financial impact of milk fever in your herd, contact your local Farm Source TSR or Nutritech Area Manager for a free phone nutritional consultation, where we can work through our milk fever calculator and give you practical suggestions on the best dry, springer, colostrum and milking diets for your situation.

Article supplied by Nutritech International Limited