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Dry Cow Nutrition - How To Unlock Lactation Potential in Dairy Cows

 dry cow nutrition

Transition Dry Cow Nutrition the Key to Unlocking Lactation Potential in Dairy Cows

There are many challenges which can affect dairy cows during the three weeks before and after calving that can have a marked effect on her health and the quantity of milk she produces in the forthcoming lactation and of course the clincher will be fertility and her ability to get back in calf quickly. 

These challenges largely revolve around her demand for calcium which increase five fold within the 24 hours after calving. The potential consequences of not meeting this requirement will include the obvious milk fever, but perhaps less obvious conditions which include:

• Sub-clinical milk fever 

• Retained Foetal Membrane

• Metritis

• Displaced Abomasum

• Mastitis / elevated Somatic Cell Count

• Ketosis

Milk fever is known as a ‘gateway disease’ due to the fact that once the gate to milk fever is open, the rest of these conditions follow on.

The way we feed the dry cow in the three weeks prior to calving can have a significant impact on her performance in the forthcoming lactation, not only for milk production but also to help improve and prevent the conditions listed above.

The link between the ration and calcium availability at calving is largely due to increasing levels of potassium in grass which makes the cow’s body systems less efficient in handling calcium.

The level and balance of potassium and other minerals which affect the acid or alkaline nature of the cow is expressed in terms of “Cation-Anion Balance” (CAB) which is measured as meq/kg DM. The key objective is to achieve a total ration CAB of less than 100 meq/kg DM. It is virtually impossible to achieve this by adjusting the ration alone, although you can significantly improve the potential. To achieve this fully, you will need to feed a supplement that has a negative CAB value (anionic salts) to help offset the CAB of the ration itself.

Nutri-LINK Transition Dry Cow (TDC) 400

Mole Valley Farmers Nutri-LINK TDC400 is a blend of anionic salts, specific sources of calcium and magnesium, trace elements and vitamins, in particular very high levels of vitamin E. The product is fed at 400g per head per day (hence TDC400) for a minimum of 21 days pre-calving. The product includes biotin as standard and is available in a number of options including LiFT and yeast.

Energy Management Risks 

During transition cows will lose body condition to support milk yield. This can reduce the liver’s ability to manage energy. This is a major cause of poor performance in early lactation.

How can LiFT (liver function technology) benefit your herd?

- Primes the liver for better energy management

- Helps to boosts milk yield in early lactation

- Supports healthy cows and good fertility

Using LiFT helps maintain a healthy functioning liver, improving dry matter intakes and performance.

Use the table below to assess the risk of your cows losing performance due to an inefficient liver.

Risk of performance loss due to inefficient liver

TDC450 + LiFT is an excellent product and combines the benefits of TDC400 and 50g of LiFT (hence the 450g feed rate) for the transition dry cow.

If you would like a copy of our booklet which explains more about managing transition cow diets and TDC400 or for more information on minerals, LiFT or TDC400 please call 01278 420481 or email [email protected]

You can also visit our website’s Nutri-LINK Mineral Supplements page for further details. 



Source Details

 Newsletter 601  - John Lawrence, Mineral Supplements Technical Manager

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