Invest in the first 60 days

Dairy farming

Traditionally, in dairy farming a lot of attention has been paid to nutrition and health management of dairy cows during lactation; rearing calves was seen as a cost rather than an investment. However, investing in colostrum management and optimizing feeding schedules during the first 60 days of life, will result in increased milk production later in life and result in a high return on investment. The same is true for investments in optimal nutrition and healthcare during the dry cow period and the period immediately after calving. Improving health status during this period in the production cycle of a dairy cow will have a strong positive impact on the economics of dairy farming.

Transition to lactation

The transition from the dry cow period to calving results in a number of challenges to the dairy cow. The animal will not eat or drink for a period of at least 8 hours and will lose large amount of fluids. Yet, the start of milk production increases the requirements for calcium dramatically and the cow struggles to meet its energy requirements for milk production. The combination of low blood calcium levels with a negative energy balance results in a poor start to lactation.

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Calf rearing

A successful calf rearing programme is based on optimal nutrition and a perfect health management system. It aims at improving health status and at an optimal growth rate. This should result in an age at first calving of 22-23 months with a bodyweight of 600-650 kg if the programme works out well.

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Dairy calf to cow facts

  • Every additional gram of pre-weaning growth results in an extra 4 litres of milk produced during the first lactation
  • Around 30% of calves are fed with colostrum of insufficient quality, resulting in sub-optimal performance
  • Dairy cows should have a Body Condition Score of 2.5-3.0 at calving
  • Separating dairy cows from the herd at calving results in stress and increases the risk of milk fever
  • For every dairy cow in a herd that develops clinical milk fever, there are at least another 4 animals with sub-clinical milk fever

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