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Preparation for calving begins now

Dairy cows

Late lactation is an important time for those farms in a block calving situation. The 6 weeks before dry off is an important time and while nutrition, minerals and management all play a key role in the dry cow another cornerstone is body condition score (BCS).

The target at calving should be 3-3.25 depending on you cow type but this should not just be the target at calving but also at dry off. Cows are more efficient at putting on condition now than in the dry period. We should be maintaining them during the dry period and especially to prevent cows from putting on condition beyond 3.25. This not alone could lead to calving issues but also metabolic issues around calving, such as milk fever and retaining membranes. In fact, cows are up to 9 times more likely to suffer this if they are over conditioned.

On top of this cows that are over conditioned at calving can have 30% lower dry matter intake post calving. This at a time when a cow is already struggling for intake and avoid severe negative energy balance (NEB).

Preparing for any dry cow period needs planning and over many years KEENAN has used its mechanical and technical know how to support dry cows during this period. Grass silage even when poor in quality is very good for dry cows and on top of this an over consumption of this feed can lead to cows putting on up to 1 BCS score during the dry period. Dilution of the quality of this diet using low energy feed such has straw has been the corner stone of the KEENAN controlled energy high fibre diet.

The mechanics of the KEENAN has allowed the incorporation of high quantities of straw or long material to the mix in a consistent manner. Earlier research of these diet on up to 25,000 cows in several countries has shown major health benefits in the avoidance of metabolic issues by as much as 50-80% resulting in an average benefit per cow of €51.

While we balance the diet for energy, protein, and minerals the measurement of dry matter intake is key and sometimes overlooked as the cause and solution to dry cow issues on many farms. The KEENAN controller allows the measure and monitoring of dry matter intake daily and ensured correct and accurate delivery thereafter.