Without urgent corrective action, some spring calving cows could face problems during the next three months – a legacy of plentiful high quality grass this summer. So says Animax’s vet Elizabeth Berry.
A recent and widespread rise in calving difficulties indicates that many cows are carrying surplus weight into late pregnancy.
So, to prevent problems before they arise, Dr Berry is urging producers to focus on body condition scores and trace element supplementation – both leading up to and during the dry period. “But before making any changes, discuss them with your vet or specialist feed adviser,” she stresses.
A lean and fit condition score of between 2.5 and 3.0 at calving is ideal. For trace element status, Dr Berry adds that producers should know whether their soils are copper deficient and if supplementation is needed. "But for other trace elements it isn't as obvious.
"Many deficiencies are sub-clinical and not easily noticed. Among the losses they cause are calving difficulties, weak calves, impaired fertility, and reduced milk production."
Dr Berry says that continuous-release, long-duration supplementation is an easy and reliable way to supplement cattle. "Tracesure boluses, for example, lodge in the base of the rumen and release a trickle of essential selenium, cobalt and iodine – with or without copper – for up to six months."