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Lactating Cow

What’s important during this life stage?

  • Maximizing healthy production through the most cost-effective methods while maintaining optimal cow health and longevity in the herd.
  • Ensuring that the cows’ milk production climbs quickly and that they achieve high peak milk during the dairy cow lactation cycle through the use of properly balanced rations formulated for each stage of lactation in order to achieve efficient, high dry matter intakes.
  • Optimizing the inclusion of on-farm, high-quality forages and ingredients in order to help minimize purchased feed costs.
  • Enhancing the effectiveness of the diet through the supplementation of research-driven, high-return-on-investment additives that are proven to help the cow reach her genetic potential.
  • Developing feed management protocols to ensure that the little things are done right, including the consistency of the feed delivered, feed pushups, routine forage dry matter analysis, the facing of forage piles and feed hygiene.

Common challenges:

  • Mycotoxins: Mycotoxins in feedstuffs can significantly affect production potential and cow health if not properly addressed.
  • Overcrowding: Overcrowding in lactating cow pens can greatly impact feed consumption, thus limiting production potential.
  • Forage quality: Poor forage quality and availability can limit ration formulation options and lead to higher-cost rations.
  • Heat stress: If not properly mitigated, heat stress can have negative effects on both current and future production parameters and can also have a negative impact on calves in utero for pregnant cows.

Tips for maximizing health and performance: 

  • Bunk and water space: Ensure that there is adequate bunk and water space so that all animals have access to the nutrients necessary to achieve their intake goals.
  • High-quality forage: Strive to harvest high-quality forage in order to reduce purchased feed costs and optimize dry matter intakes.
  • Dry matter intakes: High dry matter intakes through several meals per day help maximize production, milk components and rumen/cow health.
  • Air ventilation: Good air ventilation is crucial for encouraging proper cow flow and comfort.
  • Cow comfort: Providing optimal cow comfort throughout your facilities will ensure that cows are able to achieve peak productivity. 
  • Mitigating heat stress in dairy cows during the summer months will more than pay for itself over time as potential decreases in intake, production and reproduction are minimized.
  • Vaccination protocols: Follow strict vaccination protocols in order to ensure optimal cow health at all times.
  • Hoof trimming: Routine hoof trimming post-peak lactation and prior to dry-off will help to maintain ideal locomotion throughout the herd.
  • Group cows by age and lactation number: Group cows by age and lactation number to minimize animal hierarchy and to allow for rations to be formulated more precisely based on the nutrients needed and level of intake.