Research Snippets from BCVA

Published 19 December 12

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One in three cows suffering from ketosis

Studies have shown that nearly 30 per cent of cows suffer subclincal ketosis and 3-4 per cent have clinical ketosis during the first 50 days of lactation. This is according to Alistair Macrae from Royal (Dick) Veterinary School at Edinburgh University, who warns that this puts the cows at risk of poorer fertility and reduced production. "Problems with energy balance are the most common nutritional constraint identified by metabolic profile blood testing," he says. "Interestingly, 30 per cent of cows sampled had good energy results in the last 10 days of pregnancy and the first 20 days of lactation, indicating that positive energy balance is achievable."  The key, he says, is adequate transition cow nutrition both in late pregnancy and early lactation. "Blood, urine, milk and rumen biochemistry can help assess nutritional status in both late and early lactation and will provide objective evidence of whether a ration that looks good on paper is working as it should be." 

Rethink calf feeding management

Feed calves more milk during cold weather to avoid them utilising their own body fat stores and losing weight. This is the message from Dai Grove White from University of Liverpool, who says a best-practice rule-of-thumb is to feed 27 per cent more milk at temperatures of 10°C, 40 per cent more at 5°C and 50 per cent if conditions reach freezing. "Calf feeding management really does need a rethink on many farms," he explained.  "It's one of the most neglected areas within dairy farming. Half of calves lose weight in first days of life; this weight loss can be avoided by paying particular attention to nutrition during these first critical days. Feeding 50 per cent more colostrum can halve cull rates in later life and have a positive impact on future milk yields."

Risk of getting Digital Dermatitis is lifelong

Heifers who get digital dermatitis in the rearing period are twice as likely as their herdmates to get digital dermatitis during first lactation, says Dr Nigel Cook from University of Wisconsin. "When the disease does show, copper sulphate footbath treatment is generally better than formalin but both work well," he said. The use of a pre-wash bath increases fouling in the treatment bath and, for this reason, Dr Cook recommends avoiding pre-wash bathing. "Longer footbaths are more effective, with each hoof being dipped three times in a footbath of 3.7m. The more times a hoof is dipped into the treatment, the more successful the treatment will be. Dairy farmers should aim for <5 per cent of hooves with digital dermatitis lesions at dry off."