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What's Your New Year's Resolution?
Dairy Pipeline: January 2009
(540) 483-5161, firstname.lastname@example.org
The new year often brings motivation for
change. Itís a chance to evaluate where you
are compared to where you want to be. This
can apply to your farm as well. Management
of transition cows (defined as three weeks
before and after calving) may be one area to
critically evaluate. This period is crucial to the
overall productivity (and ultimately profitability)
for each cow. Additionally, the longevity of
the cow is often compromised during the transition
period, with on average 8.6% of all
cows that calve leaving within the first 60
days of lactation (S. Stewart, 2001, When
Cows Leave the Herd; John Fetrow et. al.,
2003, Monitoring Fresh Cow Programs).
A good resolution for this year would be to
strive to provide the following for transition
- Clean, dry calving area.
- Access to plenty of clean water. At least
one watering location (two linear feet) per 15
to 20 cows is needed. More troughs may be
needed to prevent boss cows from monopolizing
- Minimum of 30 inches of bunk space per cow
both for dry and fresh cows.
- No overcrowding! At least 10 hours of rest time
is needed during this time. This can be accomplished
by grouping fresh cows separately where
- Monitor fresh cows closely for the first week to
10 days. Minimally, these evaluations should include
observation of temperatures, milk production,
posture, gait, respiration rate, signs of dehydration,
rumen fill, and foul odors. Urine ketone
checks are also advised.
- Record cases of metabolic disorders with the
cow number, date, and treatment. Good records
allow you to monitor the success of your transition
program as well as detect surges in disorders.
Of course not all of these can be accomplished
overnight and facilities may limit some changes.
At a minimum everyone can closely monitor fresh
cows early after calving and record metabolic diseases.
Keep in mind even small changes can
make a big difference in performance of transition
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