News & Advice

Another Tough Spring – what’s your herd body condition looking like?

Dec 6, 2017 | Dairy, Dairy Animal Health & Welfare, Farm systems

Dave Curnow, Veterinarian, Anexa FVC, Ngatea

With mating almost over now, it is a good time to start planning how you are going to maximise cow production and maintain or gain cow body condition (BCS) through the rest of lactation. 
The use of supplements and summer crops to complement summer pasture is vital to ensure the herd remains in good shape in the post-Christmas period. Many farms have had to use more supplement than normal this spring and so supplement reserves need to be considered going forward. 
In situations where cow body condition is below target, or feed is short, once a day (OAD) milking can be an excellent option. Dairy NZ trial work found that OAD post-Christmas is generally worth 0.25BCS gain over the rest of lactation with a 10% loss of production over this period. On farms with long walking distances, OAD may actually improve production. If considering putting the entire herd on OAD, then your BTSCC needs to be below 200,000 on twice a day beforehand to avoid potential grading issues. 
Early scanning is another option that can be used to identify culls. This is best done 12 to 14 weeks after the start of mating (i.e. December through to early January). This information can also be very useful in determining appropriate dry off dates later in the season. 
Maintaining body condition is a lot more efficient than losing it and having to play catch up. Anexa FVC has certified Vets who can provide an accurate independent assessment of your herd and advise on feed budgeting if required. It is ultimately not only good for your cows but also for your bank balance to be proactive in monitoring and addressing issues with herd body condition over the coming months. 

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