News & Advice

The Transition period – What it is and why we should care

May 31, 2022 | Dairy, Dairy Animal Health & Welfare

  • The transition period is approximately 3 weeks pre-calving (“Springing”) and 2 weeks after. 

Why does Anexa recommend that we manage springing cows carefully? 

  • This springing period helps set the peak production (maintaining condition, intakes and health). 
  • The springing period sets the cow up to get back in calf as quickly as possible 
  • As springing cows approach calving they want to decrease feed intake and mobilise body tissue reserves at a time when feed demand is increasing (due to demands of the growing foetus), excessive condition loss can occur causing metabolic diseases including ketosis and retained membranes. 
  • If the metabolic system is not sufficiently primed, then as the cow calves she doesn’t mobilse enough calcium from the bone, leading to increased milk fever and low calcium post calving. 
  • Immune system depression occurs peri-calving making the cow susceptible to many diseases that prevent potential production and  reproductive performance being achieved.
  • In some situations the springing cows need to prepare the rumen for the post calving diet. 

How can you help reduce milk fever and down cows this season? 

  • Adjust the feed ration to transition from dry cow to milking cow feed ration – traditionally of less importance in New Zealand when pasture only rations were fed, when transitioning from pasture to supplements there is usually an adjustment period especially if starches are fed (eg meal or maize). 
  • Increase feed levels to compensate for the increased demand of the growing foetus. 
  • Prime the cow’s system so that calcium can be available from the bone immediately post calving – thereby reducing milk fever/down cows. Traditionally this has been done by attempting to drive down calcium levels pre-calving and supply good levels of Magnesium but this doesn’t work on all farms and in all diets. 
  • Research conducted at Anexa in this field in the last few years has identified that many herds are not getting their mineral supplementation quite right. Despite many herds supplementing well in excess of the recommended magnesium amounts we found 52% of cows tested (from 76 herds) with Subclinical milk fever in the couple of days after calving 
  • Give your springing herd a combination of minerals to reduce the DCAD (Dietary Cation-Anion Difference) – a strategy used overseas and in New Zealand for many years. 

What is Anexa doing to support our farmer members? 

We recognize that supplementation on-farm needs to be simple. Therefore, we have developed an “all in one bag” springer-cow mineral mix, with ideal levels of Magnesium and at a competitive price. Two products were used on farm with good levels of success last season. 

  • Springer mix – a blend of three types of magnesium (Chloride, Sulphate and Oxide) with Ammonium Chloride.
  • Springer Mix Calcium –Springer mix with Calcium (Sulphate and Chloride). It has been developed specifically for farms that find standard springer mixes don’t prevent metabolic issues. 

Either mix can have Monensin and trace element added. 

Are you wondering if your herd will benefit from these mixes – use our check list to find out: 

  • Are you feeding the springing mobs a supplement that minerals can be mixed with? Maize silage, grass silage or PKE. 
  • Are you using another mineral mix at the moment but feel it is not working or it is too costly? 
  • Are you running a springing cow mob ideally with each cow for 3 weeks but 2 weeks minimum? 
  • Do you have trouble accurately applying minerals to your feed supplements i.e. – not dusting Mag accurately or adding 2-4 different minerals (E.g. Mag C & Mag S)? 
  • Struggling for consistency in getting the mix right? 
  • Or is formulating your spring mix just taking too much time? 

If you answered YES to the questions above talk to your Vet or TSR we will work with you to come up with a plan, if the standard mixes don’t suit, we can create your herd its own custom blend based on blood test results.

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