It is well recognised that the primary factor determining the success of your transition period is Dry Matter Intake (DMI). At the XLVets Transition Cow Roadshow last year, Steve Le Blanc presented data illustrating that 82% of DMI in dry cows is determined by management and not body condition score (BCS), diet formulation or parity. Driving DMI in your dry cows and fresh calvers is relevant regardless of the management system, breed, yield or parity of the dry cows. As an example, in a dry Holsteins, a 1kg/day decrease in DMI doubles the risk of subclinical ketosis post calving.
The ultimate dry cow management to maximise transition success would include:
Great success in driving DMI has been achieved by feeding dry cows twice a day. Provided the diet can be protected from the elements, it can be mixed once a day and then stored prior to putting it out as a second feed.
Supporting at risk cows:
What are effective interventions for ketotic cows?
Several feed additives have been extensively researched:
How to supplement choline?
Choline can be supplemented in the transition ration to the point of calving, but unless a herd has a fresh cow group it can’t be supplemented post calving without giving to the whole herd. Targeted dosing can be achieved using boluses. Trial work looking at yield response, has shown these to be most effective when given:
Use of Choline is a relatively new tool in the management of cows who are at risk for transition ‘failure’. Please do speak to us to find out whether this could be a suitable tool to help these problem cows and to identify ways to maximise your DMI in your dry cows.
Many thanks to James Husband for providing content for this article.