Identify risk status of your herd ahead of vital dry-cow period
As the month of October ends, we still have very mild weather, excellent grass growth rates and grazing conditions.
Milk prices are excellent, with some farmers getting close to 50c/l for milk with high solids. The temptation among some farmers is to continue to supply milk even with a superlevy imminent.
Caution needs to be exercised on animal health at this time of year. Bulk milk testing has recorded a high incidence of liver fluke, stomach fluke, stomach worms and IBR in unvaccinated herds. This is supported by the fact that approximately 30pc of cows scanned by CowsDNA are below the target body condition score for this stage of the production cycle.
Poor body condition score at this time of year is always associated with inadequate dry matter intakes, lameness or clinical symptoms of disease. Scanning cows now will reveal many empty cows, which are a surprise to farmers.
Further investigation will reveal the causes as loss of multiple pregnancies, neospora associated with mummified pregnancies, high infection rate for liver or stomach fluke, lung worms, stomach worms and IBR.
The clinical symptoms for many of these diseases only becomes evident at this time of year. It is worth noting that a clinical infection of stomach worms can consume in excess of 1kg of concentrates every day.
Prevention of these problems is far more cost effective than treatment because these diseases have far reaching consequences.
Eighty per cent of herd health problems arise during transition from the dry cow period through early lactation. You need to ensure your cows are fit when they are dried off and maintain this status until they calve down. The danger is that cows will not be fit for the dry cow period with a consequent immune system depression during the transition period.