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Critical Minerals in the Transition Period

Critical Minerals in the Transition Period

Most dairy farmers are now in the midst of calving and as such their cows are in the Transition Period (3 weeks pre-calving to 3 weeks post calving)

Managing the dairy cow during the transition period to minimise metabolic disorders and maintain high levels of immunity is critical for optimising fertility, milk yield and quality in the next lactation.

In the pre-calving transition period the objective is to minimise sub clinical and clinical milk fever (also known as the gateway disease) and this is achieved by minimising the amount of Calcium in the dry cow diet along with the addition of 30 grams of magnesium and 30,000iu’s of vitamin D3 per day. This ensures mobilisation of calcium from the cow’s own reserves and therefore strong muscle contraction of the uterus, expelling the calf quickly and also the placenta. A strong immunity is achieved with antioxidants, especially selenium and vitamin E.

For the post calving transition period, it is also critical that the same minerals, calcium and magnesium are at adequate levels in the diet to aid the transition dry period in reducing clinical milk fever. This ensures strong muscle contraction of the rumen and gastrointestinal tract to maximise dry matter intake and prevent displaced abomasum. Calcium levels dip at calving as the cow begins milk production. It is important that blood calcium levels increase within 48 hours post calving.

From this point, the cow is expected to produce large quantities of milk, to do so she needs to have her “engine”, the rumen running efficiently. Optimising the rumen function will be helped by the addition of yeast and sodium bicarbonate along with adequate structural fibre. Optimising the rumen function also helps in dealing with the length of time cows are in negative energy balance (NEB) critical for controlling excess body condition score loss and therefore fertility. This is helped with the feeding of glucose precursors propylene glycol and niacin in the transition period.

In the post calving period when metabolic disorders occur in particular metritis , ketosis and displaced abomasums intake is affected having a knock on effect on cellular metabolism. In treatment and recovery it is important that electrolyte balance is maintained particularly potassium and chloride to maintain cellular metabolism in stressful situations. The use of an effective electrolyte aids recovery in treatment. This should also be considered in the transportation of livestock.

An easy to administer method of supplying the above essential vitamins, minerals, probiotics and precursors is through oral supplementation of Nutribio’s Fresh Cow YMCP which provides Yeast, Magnesium, Potassium and 60g of Calcium directly after calving.

Andrew McInerney, Nutritionist (CAHL/Nutribio)