Dry Cows Need Protein

We have made significant advances in recent years in transition nutrition. Lead Feed grain mixes with anionic inclusion especially, to minimise milk fever and ketosis. However, dry cow nutrition is still a major issue as research uncovers this period as also having major influence on problems at calving, fertility and whole of lactation performance.

In drier months with pasture lacking, crude protein requirement can be severely limiting in both the dry and springer phase. The calf experiences 70% of its growth in the last 60 to 70 days of pregnancy. Unborn calves are fed protein via the umbilical cord, not energy per se. This demand on the dam, if her diet is protein deficient, will cause her to mobilise protein from muscle tissue.

Ensuring adequate protein, especially soluble protein (rumen degradable) during dry months, can be done with grass silage. Hay generally only has around 25% soluble protein, whereas silage can be 65% soluble protein. Lupins can be another source of soluble protein, but limitations apply to amount fed.

Our new born calf’s future rests on colostrum intake. This applies not only to supplementary immunity until the calf develops its own immunity, but also a wide variety of other substances contained in colostrum. Many of these substances are proteins, like IgG. A deficiency of protein pre-calving is going to place a ceiling on the calf’s lifetime production, health and fertility; in short, her value to your farm business for many years to come.

Colostrum needs to be collected as soon as possible post-calving. Research has shown IgG concentration has decreased by 33% in 14 hours post-calving. Likewise, administration of four litres to the new born calf as soon as possible post-calving to avoid a similar deterioration in absorption capacity of IgG, and other protein compounds found in colostrum.

A growing trend both overseas and now in Australia, is pasteurization of colostrum to remove the threat of bacterial contamination. Bacterial contamination will not just feed the calf threatening bacteria, but the quality of colostrum also deteriorates in the presence of bacterial.

Colostrum also contains growth as well as immune modulating compounds including peptide hormones, growth factors, cytokines, steroid hormones and enzymes, amino acids, fatty acids energy, lactose, vitamins and minerals, all essential for a new productive life. Mineral nutrition of our dry/springer cow is also essential to provide these colostrum ingredients. We manufacture a self-feed Loose-Lick mineral preparation to aid in dry cow vitamin and mineral nutrition.

Calfmax and TreatScour are available from our webshop.