GrainCorp Feeds is educating dairy farmers about transition feeding this calving as a tool to help improve cow health and lift milk production.
GrainCorp Feeds General Manager Daniel Calcinai says the transition period covers the four weeks before and after calving and is a critical time for the dairy cow.
“The transition period is a brief but critically important period where as much as 80 per cent of disease costs are generated, and an average of 4 per cent of animals have to be culled from the herd,” he says.
“Farmers know their cows’ demand for nutrients is high at this time of the year. It’s important to set animals up well so they have a smooth calving and minimise the risk of milk fever and other metabolic diseases. That’s what transition feeding is all about.”
While it’s a relatively new concept to the industry, getting transition nutrition right helps enhance rumen function, improve metabolism, boost immunity and reduce the incidence of milk fever.
“It can also help prevent other metabolic diseases such as ketosis, retained foetal membrane and lameness, which in turns reduces cost and lifts seasonal profitability significantly,” says Calcinai.
“In terms of financials, we often refer to the return on investment from feeding the right feed at the right time, and this is particularly relevant for transition feeding.
“Based on DairyNZ data, the direct cost of milk fever alone can be $8000 per 100 cows. On a 300-cow farm this equates to $24,000. For a small investment in the right transition product, these costs can be slashed.
“Getting milk in the vat earlier to reach high peak milk and holding it for longer starts during that transition period.”
Recently, Taranaki farmers learnt first-hand about the benefits of transition feeding at a seminar held by GrainCorp and animal nutrition experts, Nutritech.
“It was great to see farmers enthusiastic about the potential transition feeding can have for their herd’s health, while saving them time and money too,” says Calcinai.
“Reducing your number of down cows logically means less time spent lifting animals and administering costly drugs.”
Graincorp Feeds has developed products to help farmers get their transition nutrition right.
“Every farmer has a different feeding set-up,” says Calcinai. “We have a loose product mix that can be added to feed-out wagons or mixed with dry blended feeds on farm.
“We also have a transition Pellet which can be fed in-shed or in the paddock. These pellets have been developed to be fed at 2kg per cow per day, for the 3 weeks pre-calving.
“Because our transition Pellets contain a full dose of magnesium, there is no need for farmers to waste time and money dusting paddocks or drenching their animals.”
Each 2kg of the GrainCorp Feeds transition Pellet contains a 200gm dose of NutriMin® Springer Cow Balancer – HiMag. This product helps lower the DCAD of the diet for optimal transition nutrition.
DCAD (dietary cation anion difference) is a nutritional method of stimulating the cow’s own metabolism of calcium reserves. Lower DCAD diets can increase calcium mobilisation and help to reduce milk fever issues.
Source: GrainCorp Feeds