News & Advice

Getting cow condition right for spring calvers

Apr 1, 2018 | Dairy, Dairy Animal Health & Welfare, Dairy Farm Reproduction

Dave Curnow, Veterinarian, Anexa Ngatea

With most Spring calving farms in the thick of implementing their recovery strategy prior to next season, things are all go! 
Setting both the farm and the cows up must be priority. On many farms, extensive re-grassing will result in markedly less available grazing area than normal this autumn. Farm condition combined with variable herd body condition at present means that a realistic plan needs to be in place now to ensure the girls calve down in good shape. Every season the message is the same “don’t milk on too late at the expense of next spring”. 
Like everything in farming, there is always a compromise and the short-term gain in more days in milk could become a larger loss next season if cow condition falls away. 
Target body condition scores (BCS) at calving is 5.0 for mature cows and 5.5 for 2 and 3-year olds. A lot of herds do not reach these targets due to a combination of inadequate feed (type and amount) offered and time before calving. 
Below, is a local example demonstrating the impact of BCS on reproduction:

In this herd, cows calving in BCS 5.0 had a 6% higher 6 week in calf than a cow calving in 4.5, which is worth $24/cow, and cows calving in BCS 4.0 vs 5.0 had a 17% lower 6 week in calf – worth $68/cow. 

The industry average lost milk production is 15kg per BCS unit below target at calving. 
Planning ahead requires knowing where your herd is currently, continued monitoring, and having a sound plan over the coming months. 
If you would like your herd body condition scored to industry standards or would like advice on how to get your herd to calving targets, please contact your local Anexa Vet. 

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