Autumn creeps up on us all, the days seem to get shorter and the mornings colder. Suddenly it’s dry off time and the herds body condition score may not be where you’re hoping it would be. Now is the time to get the herd ready for dry off and next season’s calving.
In autumn body condition of the herd takes priority over production. April/May is a balance between getting as much production as possible, meeting cow BCS targets and achieving winter minimum feed cover targets. Monitoring growth rates weekly is a good way to stay on top of this.
Feeding for weight gain is a priority in autumn. Lush autumn grass with a low DM% and high protein is a bad diet for weight gain. Addition of supplements like quality silages, grain and starch-based feeds and crop help to gain condition.
If your herd has not been on grain or high starch feeds, how they are introduced to these feeds is critical to maintain feed conversion efficiency and get the most out of your supplement. The milking cow gains condition more efficiently than the dry cow, but enough total feed and the right kind of feeds need to be consumed to achieve this.
Trace mineral deficiency, in particular of copper and cobalt, can also reduce weight gain especially this time of year. Selenium levels also need to be raised between now and calving to reduce problems with retained foetal membranes and uterine infections post calving.
With that in mind now is an excellent time for blood and liver tests to determine if extra minerals are necessary.
AUTUMN IS AN IDEAL TIME TO BODY CONDITION SCORE THE HERD
Body condition score is a good tool to be able to split the cows into groups to help you achieve the weight gain needed to reach ideal dry off targets. Strategic weight gain during late lactation gives the cows more time to adjust and grow, excessive rapid weight gain during dry off can cause many issues at calving.
Please get in contact with the farm vets at the clinic if you would like to discuss your on-farm feeding strategy. We will look into the diet and dry matter offered and consumed to ensure you are on the right track. As well as covering herd management strategies.
Rangiora Vet Centre offers whole herd body condition scoring. To book this in just give the clinic a call or go straight to the source and call Kellie.