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Dry cow and heifer management

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Dry cow and heifer management

  1. 1. Dry Cow And Heifer Management PRE-CALVING CARE
  2. 2. Care begins with breeding decisions. A dairy farmer should know that some breed of bulls are a higher risk of calving problems than others. Yet for any cow, complications during calving can pose serious consequences.
  3. 3. A dairy farmer should select sires for calving ease particularly where heifers and framed cows are concerned in order to avoid calving difficulties.
  4. 4. Always note that heifers are vulnerable to calving problems because at first calving, they are still growing. In some cases, the calf could be larger in proportion to its heifer dam.
  5. 5. As the birth canal of heifer is required to stretch for the first time, there is likely to be • Significant trauma, and • Tearing of tissues
  6. 6. The above can result in:- • Illness • Lost productivity, and • Higher death rates
  7. 7. . It also can lead to paralysis of the hind legs due to prolonged pressure of the calf internal nerves.
  8. 8. The above can force a farmer to cull a heifer that would have served him very well over time.
  9. 9. To reduce the effect of these risks, a dry cow or heifer should be prepared in advance through sound feeding and management.
  10. 10. Feeding and management programmes for young calves to avoid or limit the effects of the above start with caring for the dam or mother two months to calving.
  11. 11. A dry cow should be fed a balanced diet to:- • Meet the cows nutrients needs, • Support the growth of the fetus,
  12. 12. • Prepare the cow to fight the trauma and energy drain that accompany the process of giving birth, • To supply adequate minerals and vitamins to improve the system of the dam.
  13. 13. So that the cow can fight disease challenges such as mastitis infection just before after calving,
  14. 14. • You minimize health problems such as preventing retained placentas.
  15. 15. Note that if a heifer or cow is slightly underfed energy and protein, the fetus will still grow to the same size as if she was fed properly, but she will sacrifice her own body reserves or growth to support the growth of the fetus inside her.
  16. 16. BUT underfed heifer will have more trouble calving, and older cows will use their body store of fat and protein to support the growth of the fetus inside them meaning:-
  17. 17. Their store (read: reserve of energy) will not be available to support milk production after calving. It is therefore worth noting that under feeding dry cows and heifer does not result in a smaller calf but instead results in lower performance of the cow or heifer after calving.
  18. 18. A farmer should always aim at optimizing production through sound feeding and management.
  19. 19. Feed the dam well noting that during this stage, the calf in the cow grows faster and yet there is pressure against the rumen limiting the room for dry matter intake.
  20. 20. During the four week transition period, prior to calving, major changes are occurring within the cow •The fetus is growing at a rapid rate.
  21. 21. • The cow's appetites is decreasing as the increasing size of the fetus reduces the room available for the rumen to fill. • Additional hormonal and lactational charges also suppress the cow appetite.
  22. 22. Failure to manage the supply of nutrients required for lactation like energy, calcium and magnesium can result sick cows. A dairy farmer should focus on correct sire selection.
  23. 23. As a dairy farmer give careful attention to sire you select for your cows and particularly heifers.
  24. 24. The above will save the farmer from:- • Potential loss of genetics • Potential loss of productivity
  25. 25. Farmers select sires through:- · A I, or · Bulls
  26. 26. And as they do that, they should consider how each bull ranks for ease of calving. Always choose sire for calving ease. It is better for the cow and the calf. Heifer should be well managed so they can calve at 24month of age.
  27. 27. That means they should attain:- • The right weight, and • The body for serving at age 15 months
  28. 28. Heavier, well framed heifer need less calving assistance. Well grown heifer also: • Get in calf easier the first time
  29. 29. • Produce more milk in their first and subsequent lactations, • Get back in calf sooner for their second lactation, • Stay in the herd longer, and • Cope better with herd competition
  30. 30. A healthy calf begins with a healthy cow. As calving time approaches, the cow due to calve needs to be watched closely for complications. Cows and heifers should be kept in a clean, dry, grassy lot or a clean, well bedded pen.