Small Changes in Fresh Cow Management Can Have Big Impacts
In a highly competitive dairy market, it is critical that dairies capture every opportunity to focus on efficiency and productivity. When it comes to fresh cow management, swing for base hits, not for the fences. On many dairies, base hits – small adjustments – will help win the game with transition cows rather than home runs.
Honing fresh cow management offers a perfect opportunity to optimize pre- and postpartum health to ensure peak performance in early lactation. Post-calving diseases, such as metritis and mastitis, pose a serious threat to cows’ milk production and future reproductive potential. Incorporate these four practices to help fresh cows maximize their production potential and financial impact:
- Provide solid nutrition.
Fresh cows can experience difficulties from calving due to the sudden increase in milk production and the predictable decreased dry matter intake. Monitor pre-calving and post-calving feed intake and regularly consult with your nutritionist to identify opportunities in the nutrition program.
- Identify disease early.
Fresh cow diseases, like mastitis and metritis, can hinder lactation and subsequent reproductive efficiency. Work with your veterinarian and train employees to recognize early disease symptoms, properly diagnose cows and treat cows according to farm protocol.
- Administer fast and effective treatments.
Long-term and recurring disease treatments can take a toll on your bottom line. Keep cows in your herd longer by treating sick cows as soon as they’re identified to minimize disease duration, prevent relapse and reduce costly re-treatments. Consider treatment options with zero milk discard to avoid moves to the hospital pen. This is beneficial for minimizing social stress and exposure to other diseases found in the hospitable pen while keeping milk in the tank.1
- Identify disease risk prior to breeding.
Genomic testing can help you predict an animal’s risk of future disease. Having this knowledge can help you make more-educated culling and breeding decisions to maximize potential of your future herd.
Managing your herd during transition can save your dairy from lost profits and decreased lactation performance. Maintaining the health of your herd can help your milk production levels increase, resulting in a positive impact on net farm income.2 A healthy cow equals a happy dairy.
1 Boe KE, Faerevik G. Grouping and social preferences in calves, heifers and cows. Appl Anim Behav Sci. 2003;80(3):175-190.
2 Lormore M. What Drives Financial Success on a Dairy? Parsippany, NJ: Zoetis; 2018.