Minimising body condition loss in early lactation cows through strategic summer feeding is critical if winter production and overall profitability are to be protected, claims KW nutritionist Dr Anna Sutcliffe.
“Not only will replacing condition take priority over milk produciton once these cows are housed – potentally costing 172 litres/cow for every 0.5 body condition score (BCS) lost – but there are also serious implications for fertility and lameness,” she states.
“For example, BCS loss accounts for 50% of the lameness risk in early lactation, thought to be due to thinning of the protective fat pad in the foot.”
With each case of lameness estimated to cost an average of £323 in lost production and treatment – and up to £2,000 if the cow is involuntarily culled – the impact can be significant.
“Keeping feed costs under control is also critically important, so focus on high value, nutrient dense feeds that encourage intakes to maximise nutrient supply to the cow,” Dr Sutcliffe advises.
“Three months feeding 1.5kg FW/cow/day of a moist feed like traffordgold can supply the energy to maintain 0.5 BCS, yet cost a 200 cow herd just £2,000-2,600. That’s compared to potential winter milk losses in excess of £8,000 if cows replace that condition once housed.”