3 weeks before calving (Transition)
This 3-4 week period leading up to calving requires your close attention, but it will ultimately pay dividends.
Leading up to calving is the period where the preparation begins to enable the cow to maximise her dry matter intake (DMI) post calving and begin adapting the rumen for changes in diet. This is where the application of hepatic oxidation theory (HOT) begins.
Now is the time to start increasing the DMI of the cow to meet increased nutrient requirements and to physically prepare the rumen for a more immediate lift in intake post-calving. This is a simple yet important step on the way to minimising body condition losses during transition.
Supplement the pasture component of the diet with ad-lib hay or straw. This ensures a neutral detergent fibre (NDF) component greater than 36% which will help avoid sub-acute ruminal acidosis (SARA) and displaced abomasum.
WHAT YOUR COW NEEDS
Pre-calving cows have increasing requirements for metabolisable protein (MP) to meet demands for foetal growth and colostrum synthesis. Increased supply of rumen undegraded protein (RUP), or bypass protein, has shown to have a stimulatory effect on DMI throughout the transition period. This may be accredited to the role specific amino acids play in assisting hepatic function by increasing the removal of fat from the liver. MP requirements of pre-calving cows will vary with breed and environment, typically supply will need to exceed 1,300 grams MP per cow daily.
Through this transition period the cow will require approximately 8% sugars and greater than 10% starch (which is not present in pasture). The starch requirement should be split 50:50 between rumen degradable starch (RDS) and rumen escape starch (RES). This critically aids rumen adaptation (around a two week process) which further contributes to the cow’s ability to adjust to the post-calving diet and ensures peak production is reached quickly with minimal body condition loss.
The starch component of the diet also supports rumen fermentation, optimum blood glucose for brain function, foetal development and colostrum.
A key component to reducing incidences of clinical and sub-clinical milk fever (low blood calcium) and retained membranes is attaining a negative dietary cation-anion difference (DCAD). A negative DCAD is achieved through the addition of minerals like magnesium chloride and magnesium sulphate. This has the net effect of pulling calcium from remodelled bone into the blood supply. Calcium is critical in the smooth muscle function of the cow, muscle groups heavily involved in the birthing process and gut function.
Delivering the best nutrient mix
The addition of TopCow® Springer to the diet during the transition period will help balance the DCAD, provide RES, optimise blood glucose and insulin sensitivity. The presence of RDS provides for essential rumen adaptation, setting the cow up for strong early peak milk production.
TopCow® Springer is designed to be fed at 3 kg/cow/day for 21 days prior to calving.
Please contact your Ingham Dairy Nutrition Specialist to discuss your herd’s specific nutrient requirements.