Upon further investigation, common problems this year include:
Using the pre-calculated dosing amount on the front of the zinc packet, without calculating it to suit your herd.
Underestimating stock weight and under dosing is very common. Is your FxJ actually 450kg, and is your Jersey really 400kg, as suggested on some zinc product labels? Instead of relying on the pre-calculated guidelines, use the recommended dose rate (eg 5.5g zinc monohydrate/ 100kg Lwt) and calculate the right amount for your herd specifically.
Not weighing your scoop. Near enough is certainly not good enough when it comes to zinc dosing. We have had some shocked farmers after we have weighed out their daily zinc requirement – often it is FAR MORE than they imagined. Kitchen scales work well to weigh your scoop/s. Mark the weight on a jug, to ensure your scoop is accurate every day. If you don’t have scales, bring some of your product and your jug/measuring vessel into your Anexa vet clinic; we are happy to weigh it out and mark how much you need
We have experienced a wet summer, and at times our cows have been relying less on trough water due to surface water.
Palatability is an issue with zinc supplementation, and cows will often prefer rainwater. Getting cows back onto the trough water after a couple of days rain can be tricky. Use a flavour enhancer like aniseed or caramel to increase the palatability of the trough water. Reassess your delivery system- if cows aren’t drinking the water reliably, maybe it’s time for a change.
Daily drenching or in-feed zinc additives are much more reliable methods of supplementation – but we have certainly found cows that are not getting enough zinc with these methods as well. Conversely, we have also experienced situations where cows are getting too much zinc. This can manifest as milk fever, as well as other serious illnesses leading to production loss, abortion, anaemia and liver failure.
Ultimately, the most reliable source of zinc supplementation is bolusing (provided weights have not been underestimated and top-up boluses are given on time). Young stock and dry stock should always be bolused, as they will not drink enough water to give them protection.
Talk to your local Anexa Vet to discuss your zinc programme – we’re here to help.