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Farmers warned of increased caesarean sections risk in overly-fit cattle

Farmers are being advised to keep an eye on body condition scores following reports of an increased number of caesarean sections in cattle recently.

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Farmers warned of increased caesarean sections risk in overly-fit cattle

Robert Logan, from Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service, says strong grass growth has led to more overly fit cows and, as a result, more difficult calvings.

 

He adds that delaying weaning will help reduce cow condition but calves will suffer on short swards, so creep feeding is essential.

 

Mr Logan says: “In general, cows have come through the winter well, followed by a normal spring then tremendous grass growth.

 

“According to anecdotal evidence, there has been an increase in the number of caesarean sections taking place, which is largely due to cows being too fit. Effectively managing body conditioning scores will help mitigate the number of caesareans required.”


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Top tips to avoid caesarean sections

 

  • All cows must be weaned no later than three weeks pre-calving to ensure they produce sufficient colostrum.
  • An alternative option is to wean cows early, put their calves on to aftermaths and heavily graze dry cows on poor quality pastures. As a rough guide, stocking rates should be double normal numbers.
  • In extreme cases, consider housing cows. Rations should supply around 70 megajoule metabolisable energy/cow/day containing at least 10 per cent crude protein in the dry matter and minerals. As soon as cows have calved they can be turned back outside to graze.
  • In all cases, try to provide additional magnesium for the last month of pregnancy.
  • In herds with a long calving period, it may be sensible to split them on expected date of calving and for example house the early calvers and keep later calvers outside and delay weaning them.
  • Do not forget spring calvers are likely to be much fitter than average at weaning this autumn too.
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