A seminar at International Dairy Week last month shared some important tips on improving transition on the dairy farm.
Jefo’s global technical manager of Jefo, Dr Abdallah Zanker spoke about improving the transition phase to increase production performance.
Dr Zanker said heat stress and a lack of B vitamins could contribute to a decrease in milk production and an increase in contracting infections.
He said the effects of heat stress could impact the transition phase, cause a drop in feeding, and a loss of fat from the reserve, which could result in lower milk production.
A low feed intake caused by heat stress could also reduce fertility because of a loss in body condition.
He said to help increase feed intake, farmers should find the best hay for their cows, and change their feed routines to include smaller, more frequent portions, roughly about four to six feeds per day.
A drop in feed could increase the risk of ketosis, a metabolic process that occurs when the body doesn’t have enough glucose for energy; metritis (an inflammation of the womb); and mastitis (an inflammatory reaction in the udder tissue).
Dr Zanker said B vitamins could optimise feed cost, based on cows that were not pasture-fed, but should not be injected.
``Injections of B vitamins are not sufficient —they are stressful, impractical and costly,’’ he said.
``Supplementing the B vitamins into the diet is the better way.’’
He said B vitamins were important for hoof health, increasing milk production, cell growth, metabolism of carbohydrates, and the synthesis of proteins.
Based on trials by Jefo on 12 farms with 1216 cows, Dr Zanker said B vitamins could increase milk production by 35 litres, butter fat by 3.65 per cent and protein by 3.2 per cent.
Dr Zanker gave some tips to help alleviate heat stress:
*Most importantly, allow cattle to have access to clean and cool water;
*Install a proper cooling system;
*If you can, avoid direct sunlight by installing shade;
*Avoid crowding cows.