During transition period, 21 days before and after calving is a challenging time for the dairy cows.
Here are some thoughts on fresh cows during transition period:
There will be many changes during transition period such as changes in pens, hormones, metabolism and stress.
During this time, the cow's feed intake may be affected, especially 5 days before freshening.
Understanding the challenges faced by fresh cows is crucial to increase milk production.
The general rule is that for every additional pound of peak milk per cow, a herd can see an additional 200 to 250 pounds more milk per cow over the entire lactation.
Hence, fresh cows will set the pace for the herd's milk production performance and the first 60 days post-calving will define a cow's lactation.
A cow will not milk more than her genetic potential.
However, by removing as many obstacles as possible, the cow is able to milk close to her genetic potential.
If there are no obstacles, it is possible for a cow to go from 0 to 140 pounds of peak milk in less than 60 days and from 28 to 60 pounds of dry matter intake in less than 70 days.
Preparing the cows:
Cows need to be prepared prior to freshening.
After freshening, the cows will also need to receive right mix of energy, protein and amino acids.
Proper energy rations, high straw rations and DCAD balancing is crucial to minimize metabolic issues during freshening.
However, that is only part of the equation.
It is equally important to prepare the rumen environment for rapid increase in feed consumption or prepare the liver to efficiently process moblized tissue reserves post-freshening.
The cow's system has to be properly prepared if they are to increase feed intake and milk production in less than 70 days.
Once the cows freshens, evaluate the feed and make sure it is well balance of digestible and indigestible fiber, starch, sugars, fat, protein to ensure the cow is in peak condition for milk production without any excessive weight loss.
For a herd to hit its production goal, it is crucial to have a proper fresh cow program. Besides reducing number of metabolic issues, it is also important to utilize technology to help meet increased energy demands.