WITH an increasing num-ber of dairy farmers now putting a greater emphasis on autumn calving, the need to focus on the fertility-related management priorities for these animals becomes all the more important.
This is the main message being communicated by the United Feeds’ team at this year’s Royal Ulster Winter Fair.
December marks the start of the main breeding season for those farmers wishing to have cows calving down next autumn. The 2022-23 breeding season, however, takes place against a backdrop of farmers having to balance poor quality first cut grass silages where dry matter intakes and total energy can be severely limiting.
Anecdotally, early indications show
that heats in fresh calved cows appear to be strong on most farms though to convert these heats into confirmed pregnancies a number of important fertility-related man-agement practices need to be a priority.
The first of these is the obvious need to manage cows effectively throughout their dry period. This will ensure that they calve down without difficulty with the subsequent threat of metabolic disorders, displaced abomasums and retained cleansings kept to an absolute minimum. A comprehensive advisory booklet on pre-calver management is available from United Feeds advisors or online at www.ufeeds.com
Once calved, the focus switches to feeding the cow properly so that she can produce high quality milk with the additional aim of minimising the number of days it takes to bring her back into a positive energy balance.
Most cows will run the risk of losing some condition for a period of time post calving. However, research data has shown that under-conditioned cows or cows losing condition in negative energy balance are less likely to conceive than those in positive energy balance.
Minimising this period of negative energy balance is very dependent on the dry matter intake and energy density of the rations they are offered once they re-join their milking groups.
The current feeding season has
thrown up several specific chal-lenges in this regard, the most obvious being the fact that many first cut silages made in 2022 and now on offer to fresh calved cows have relatively low ME values. Combine this with the fact they are wetter and have lower dry matter intake potential, overall energy intakes are lower.
Making up this energy deficit will require herdowners to feed higher levels of the correct concentrates than might normally be the case – if they want cows calving now to achieve a future calving interval that is as close as possible to 365 days.
Diets should be tailored according to the forage currently on offer, not only to provide enough energy to support quality milk production but also enough energy to ensure that cows are not in negative energy balance and not milking off their backs.
United Feeds’ advisors are available to suggest ration formulation opt-ions that fully meet the needs of individual herds in this regard.
Ensuring the freshly calved cows receive adequate levels of minerals and vitamins in their diet is the other critical factor that will ensure they sustain the required animal health and fertility status.
The United Feeds’ HerdCare min-eral package is unique in delivering copper, zinc and manganese in an organic, Bioplex form. This approach ensures the optimal uptake of these vitally important trace elements on the part of the cow.
Selenium is also included in the form of Sel-Plex, again ensuring the optimal intake and absorption of this crucially significant mineral.
Together, Vitamin E, Sel-Plex and Proviox act as anti-oxidants. These anti-oxidants help to remove free radicals which cause cell damage and in turn reduce oxidative stress. This, therefore, helps the cow to maintain good health, fertility and production.
Proviox itself is rich in compounds with strong anti-oxidative properties but it also helps to regenerate vitamin E, meaning you get more mileage from your vitamin E.
Research has shown the inclusion of Sel-Plex can significantly reduce retained cleansing and metritis by improving the cow’s immune status. Days to first service can be significantly reduced and con-ception rates can be improved by as much as 10 per cent by including Bioplex minerals in the diet.
Full information on the HerdCare package is available from United Feeds advisors or online at www.ufeeds.com
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