You can spend a lot of time and money on a well balanced transition cow ration, but failure to provide the right environment which encourages dry matter intakes could render your efforts ineffective and put cows at risk of ketosis.
Ketosis is caused by an animal going into extreme negative energy balance around calving and being forced to mobilise excess body tissue.
This leads to higher than acceptable ketone levels in blood. Maximising dry matter intakes is key to avoiding issues.
Elanco vet and dairy farmer Kate Heller says ration formulation is vital in managing calcium balance and energy density, while maintaining intakes and body condition.
However, she cannot emphasise enough the effects of social and environmental factors on dry matter intakes around calving.
She says: “The ration could be fine on paper and the ration that comes out of the wagon could be fine, but if the environment is not good enough, cows are simply not able to get the best out of it.”
Intakes will naturally dip around calving. Ms Heller says there are a number of simple low cost changes farmers can make to promote intakes, which is vital for a successful transition, for example:
To establish where environmental improvements can be made, Ms Heller advises farmers sign up for a free farm transition risk analysis by a member of the Elanco team at farmanimalhealth.co.uk/sotn
Recommendations will then be made on how ketosis risk can be reduced.
However, even if everything is managed at optimum, there will always be outliers, such as sick, old, fat or twinbearing animals that will have reduced drive to eat after calving which would benefit from further support to minimise post-calving disease.
Vet advice should be sought on how to best prevent issues in these animals.
For more information on how to combat Ketosis, visit the Elanco Hub
Elanco currently analyses milk recording data from about 200 herds, representing 33,500 cows across England, Scotland and Wales. Analysing individual cow milk fat to protein ratio gives an indication of whether an animal may be affected by ketosis. A ratio of >1.4 suggests excess body fat may be being mobilised. The problem can then be investigated.
Visit the Ketosis State of the Nation Hub at FGinsight.com/KetosisSOTN
to find out what the ketosis incidence is in your region and view resources to help you manage the problem
Get involved with #KetosisSOTN
Visit the series homepage for more information