Roadshow reinforces importance of proactive transition management

More than 100 farmers and vets have attended a series of four roadshows focusing on optimising herd potential through proactive transition management.

One of the events – which were organised by Elanco and Advanced Nutrition (AN) – was held at Richard Bowdler’s farm, near Oswestry and included expert speakers, Dominique Moelands, from Stapeley Vets; Katherine Braker, Elanco's key account manager; as well as Will Tulley and Marc Harvey, from Advanced Nutrition.

The event kicked off with a refresher on what ketosis was and how it could affect performance, before going on to discuss what defined a ‘high-risk’ transition cow, and the implications of ketosis on health and performance.

“All dairy farmers and their vets should be vigilant for the subtle signs of ketosis,” said Ms Braker. “While we see clinical ketosis in around 0.5% of freshly calved cows, 10 to 60% of cows may have subclinical ketosis.

"This form of the disease can easily go undetected and cause huge implications on milk yields, reduce the chance of cows getting back in calf and lead to more health problems,” she added.

Dairy farmer, Mr Bowdler, explained a programme he is currently running using the monensin bolus, Kexxtone, with the support of Ms Braker. “We decided to use Kexxtone in the higher risk cows to see if they’d help reduce the level of involuntary culling, caused by clinical and subclinical ketosis," he said.

"Working alongside my vet and Katherine at Elanco, we’ve already seen an increase in milk production and rumen-fill, as well as a decrease in LDA. For us, transition management is all about setting the cow up for a successful next lactation and to do this we need to consider cow nutrition, health and their wider environment.”

Mr Tulley discussed the importance of nutrition during the transition period, highlighting the latest ruminant nutrition research, and how this plays an important role in a wider holistic management strategy.

“A recent trial had shown that rations containing straw chopped to less than one-inch led to a more consistent rumen fill, lower blood ketones and a more stable PH due to the cows being less able to sort through the feed,” he said.

“Another new piece of research found that cows often lose skeletal muscle during the last weeks of pregnancy, due to increased demand for protein.”

He advised that although it was expensive, having adequate protein in diets could help with udder development, immunity, inflammation and colostrum production.