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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Grass Fever

Dairy Pipeline: April 2007

John Welsh
Extension Agent,
Rockingham County
(540) 564-3080;

About this time of year we all look forward to the appearance of green grass—cows included. After a winter of confinement and bland stored feeds we look forward to turning cows out on grass for recreation and a little grass picking. While the exercise and minimal nutrients are beneficial to the milking herd, dairymen should watch for negative impacts on close up drycows.

Whether you utilize DCAB in your close up ration or not, lush spring grasses can adversely affect the health of spring calving cows.Vegetative grass tends to have elevated levels of nutrients, particularly potassium. The elevated levels of potassium can predispose close up dry cows to milk fever and the whole host of metabolic disorders commonly associated with calving.

To minimize the impact, restrict the access to pasture such that close up cows continue to receive the majority of their dry matter intake from forages low in potassium.


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