News & Advice

Why are you getting so many down cows?

Aug 1, 2022 | Dairy, Dairy Animal Health & Welfare, Minerals

Every Spring, multiple farmers have problems with down cows. Not only is it awful for the cow concerned, it’s stressful, costly and time-consuming when farmers are already stretched to the limit.

Here are some things to think about if you are seeing more down cows than you’d like:


Springer mob

How often are cows drafted? Ideally, cows should be drafted based on calving dates at least weekly to ensure they spend 3 weeks in the springer mob prior to calving. Any less than that, and they will struggle to transition through calving and into lactation.


Springer feeding

Ensure you aren’t over-feeding your springers – they should be getting maintenance levels – 10kgDM per cow per day. This should be mainly fibre-rich feed.



Ensure you have the right levels of magnesium going into your springers. The best way to do this is to check how much they have on board, via blood testing. We often find that cows getting magnesium via dusting +/- water treatment are below target. This problem gets worse during a rainy season like this one.



Ensure your colostrums are getting the right amount of calcium. This is especially important if maize is being fed, as it is low in calcium and needs to be accounted for. Blood samples from calved cows are useful to determine whether your cows are getting the calcium that they need – depending on the situation will depend on whether we need colostrum cows or cows from the milkers.



Be careful with your springer and colostrum mobs. Don’t graze them on effluent paddocks.


Don’t forget other trace elements: copper is at its lowest in cows at this time of year, and selenium is equally important to ensure a rapid return to cycling and reduce the risk of health issues like retained fetal membranes. Copper and selenium can easily be tested via blood samples, and all herds should consider testing, whether they are actively supplementing or not.


Other Anexa Resources you may find helpful:

It’s all about Calcium!


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