Vigilance urged for pre-calving health before onset of spring
With the calving season nearly upon us, there are numerous aspects of animal health that need to be considered before we get thrown into the heat of the action.
In this article, I will address the health risks and preventative strategies for three categories of cows: the dry cow; freshly calved cows and heifers; and finally maiden heifers.
First off, let's start with managing the body condition score of the dry cow.
Managing dry cow nutrition this winter has been a challenge. Stories of silage being in short supply and of poor quality, has been the norm, not the minority. Even for those farmers who out-winter on crops, delayed sowing compromised yields and grazing conditions.
Most dairy farmers have managed their individual situation by determining how much winter feed they had and balanced the deficit with either additional concentrate, forage or other feeds such beet.
Having observed dry cows recently on a number of farms, there are certainly cows that are 'fit'.
There are fewer cows that are 'fat' but there are also a few cows which could be classed as 'thin'.
The reality this spring is that cows will generally be calving at the target body condition score (BCS) of just above BCS 3 but there will be more cows calving at less than BCS 3 compared to last spring.