Transitioning to the dry period – things to remember

Transitioning to the dry period – things to remember

As we approach the end of lactation with spring calving herds, cows can face several challenges.

As we approach the end of lactation with spring calving herds, cows can face several challenges. This precursor to the dry period is particularly important yet often one of the most neglected periods of lactation.

Areas that require care and management at this stage of lactation:

  • Body condition score
  • Milk production
  • Milk components

Any challenges in these areas can be exacerbated by the periods of changeable weather we have experienced, with a cold snap followed by mild, wet conditions leading to cases of pneumonia.

There are several ways we can nutritionally manage these challenges on farm, and our nutrition team can tailor management strategies to individual requirements.

Keeping on top of body condition

Managing body condition score (BCS) is a delicate balance, and where BCS is above or below ideal, cows will be under some degree of pressure. 3.0-3.5 is the optimum target for BCS at drying off, so care must be taken during late lactation to meet this target.

Management of the BCS goes hand in hand with management of the late lactation milk. With grazed grass being removed from the diet, a well-balanced TRM should be introduced to the herd to assist in managing BCS and milk production while targeting any specific health concerns of the herd.

With the wide variation in silage quality results this year, managing body condition may be challenging. Our team of nutritionists at Specialist Nutrition can advise according to your individual farm requirements.

Managing rumen health

Rumen function is always important but particularly at this stage of lactation to combat acidosis and ensure good absorption of nutrients.

Rumen enhancers increase the rumen’s efficiency by creating an environment that allows for the complete digestion of ration ingredients, resulting in better absorption of nutrients.

A buffer works to reduce the rumen acidity commonly seen when feeding diets designed to maximise milk production. By combining an enhancer and a buffer, you optimise rumen function throughout lactation but particularly during this crucial period.

Vistacell AB is a comprehensive farm pack that combines the delivery of the highest dosage rates of live yeast with the unique marine mineral matrix to enhance and buffer the rumen. This in turn helps to balance milk production, components and BCS during late lactation.

Proactive hoof care

Hoof health is a key area that is commonly problematic and requires action before the dry period to minimise long-term impact.

Proactive hoof treatment is good practice to treat small problems before they become bigger issues and to target subclinical lameness in the herd.

With the change in the weather leading to rapidly deteriorating ground conditions, it is not uncommon to see a sharp increase in stone bruises, claw abscesses and infection.

For cows who have already been housed, standing on concrete and scraper injuries are also a concern. While foot paring and rubber supports may be required, nutrition is an essential part of proactive hoof care, particularly after the mid-lactation period when feed levels have been at their lowest.

Biotin is vital in the diet to support better hoof health. While biotin is synthesised in the rumen, the bioavailability of this B-Group vitamin is dependent on the formulation of the diet being fed. Hoof production occurs year-round, and to support this biotin should be supplemented when cows are being buffer fed.

Biotin also directly affects the production of glucose by the cow, impacting her milk production.

Talk to Specialist Nutrition today about proactive management strategies for transitioning spring calving herds.

Specialist Nutrition | Moist Feed and Forage Specialists

Call 051 833071