News & Advice

What’s best for the cow = what’s best for the calf

Jul 9, 2020 | Dairy, Dairy Animal Health & Welfare, Young Stock

  • A healthy cow will produce higher quality colostrum. 
  • A healthy cow will push a calf out quicker. 
  • A healthy calf will get up and drink earlier. 
  • A healthy cow will more likely produce a healthy calf. The two are innately intertwined.

Managing your freshly calved cows and newborn calves is your number one priority on farm.
Colostrum cows must be offered ad lib high quality feed asap. After calving these animals do not have their full appetite. Therefore if they are not offered food and plenty of it, they will not compete with the cows in the mob that calved 4-5 days ago. Colostrum cows will not graze to 1500-1600 kg DM/Ha and therefore accepting that this mob will have slightly higher residuals than the milking herd is required. There is no point filling these cows up with poor quality silage, or hay either, as this will end up suppressing intakes further leading to body condition loss.

Getting the calf off the cow and the cow milked as soon as possible after calving, has great advantages for cow and calf. There is research in many studies (including research from our own Cognosco group) that support this management strategy.

By reducing the time the cow has a calf on her and the quicker she is milked out fully you can expect your cows to have: 

  • Less mastitis 
  • more likely to start eating quicker 
  • higher intake of food 
  • less milk fever /down cows 
  • less ketosis 
  • higher milk production. 

The advantages for the calf are: 

  • Less likely to get navel ill 
  • More likely to get the right amount of good quality colostrum (if you have a tubing policy on your farm). 
  • Better quality colostrum (the colostrum in the udder also deteriorates over time (both in the udder and in the bucket) so the fresher it’s collected the better.
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