Rapid grass growth can increase stressors for dairy cows
Published 29/06/2016 | 02:30
Current grass growth rates are excellent, which will optimise the opportunity for cost efficient milk production.
However, rapid uptake of nitrogen with its consequential impact as a stressor on dairy cows will contribute to increased embryonic death. Caution should be exercised now with regard to your breeding programme.
Cows bred from now onwards will calve in April. Your primary focus has to be on minimising stress for the cow and maximising the opportunity for repeat breeders and late calvers to establish pregnancy over the next four weeks.
Forget about plans to reduce costs that ultimately depress competence of the immune system of your herd. Instead in an era of low milk prices, focus on maximising gain from beef calves sold from the dairy herd.
Significant stressors at farm level include mastitis, poor body condition and locomotion scores, infectious diseases such as stomach and liver fluke, IBR, Johne's and neospora.
Keep a close eye on your bulk milk collection figures for butterfat and protein percentages.
Poor percentages and differentials are an indication of background stress. We currently have many reported cases where butterfats have fallen below 3.5pc and proteins below 3.3pc.
You have to avoid the cumulative stress load that results in the immune system being compromised. With defence systems down, infectious diseases become clinical with a knock-on risk of embryonic death and poor reproductive performance.