Top tips on what to feed a suckler cow after calving?
With 80% of the national suckler herd calving in the months of February, March and April, calves are starting to appear on farms across the region.
Calves are dependent on their dam's milk for the first few weeks of life until their rumen develops. Lactating cows need to be on a high plane of nutrition in order to produce milk for their calves.
Body Condition Score (BCS) must be maintained post calving so that the cow will return to normal heat cycling every 21 days. Most importantly, it is critical that suckler cows be at a BCS of 2.5 at breeding time.
Feed Requirements of Lactating Sucklers:
Aim to turn out spring-calving cows to grass as they calve. Cows going to grass directly after calving don't need concentrates if there is a good supply of high-quality grass.
If cows with calves at foot are indoors on a silage-based diet and in good condition, feed moderate to good quality silage, to appetite, for 4-6 weeks after calving, provided the diet is grass-based thereafter.
If silage quality is poor, feed 1-2 kg meals. If cows with calves at foot are indoors on a silage based diet and in poor condition, feed moderate to good quality silage, to appetite, plus 2-3kg meals per head per day.
Bear in mind the following when feeding lactating cows: