How to cut the risk of disease in calving cows
Calving is a hugely stressful time for the cow but some simple steps can reduce exposure to disease
Calving time poses significant disease challenges because of the stress on the cow which leads to decreased immune function.
The cow is under pressure on several fronts. She is going through the stress of calving, adapting to a new diet and getting used to the milking parlour all over again. This is a particularly stressful time on heifers being introduced for the first time to the milking parlour.
There is also a huge energy demand on cows and heifers after calving to produce milk. In addition the requirement to produce milk places her body under pressure to draw calcium form the bones and into the bloodstream.
Some of the most common diseases at this time are metabolic diseases like milk fever and ketosis. These can further reduce the cow’s immune function which can lead to all sorts of problems. In this article I will focus on how we can monitor these diseases to ensure a stress-free calving time.
As a lot of calving occurs indoors, cow comfort is essential to reduce stress. When a cow is close up to calving comfort is extremely important. At this stage cows are heavy in calf and must spend a long time lying down and ruminating. Having space in loose sheds or cubicle space allows cows exhibit this essential normal behaviour.
This is critical for close up cows and freshly calved cows. Remember the huge energy demand of the foetus in late pregnancy and particularly the energy that is required to produce milk at calving requires a cow to increase feed intake. She must be able to access