As many suckler farmers out there know the spring calving cow, will in general be calving inside and here is where we can control their feeding, so that cows will be at their optimum Body Condition Score (BSC). This is vitally important for a number of reasons so that:
- Calving is as easy as possible on both cow and calf
- She is able to provide a good supply of milk for her calf of the highest nutritional value
- She can recover quickly so to get back in calf once the breeding season starts on your farm.
If you a need a hand knowing your cows BSC, click here to find out exactly how on thatsfarming.com from December 3rd article outlining body condition scores.
The ideal BSC for a spring calving cow is 2.5. Research has shown that animals scoring at this body condition results in only 7.7% requiring assisted calving. Those scoring above this BCS results in an increase of assisted calving to over 14% on cows with condition score of 4 or more nearly double that of those with 2.5 BSC.
Once the cows have been scored separate them into groups according to their body condition score, based on,
- Cows that need feeding up,
- Cows that only need to maintain their position and
- Cows that are over fat.
Cows that have too high of a BSC, can be fed, based on the forage available and in particular the quality of the fodder available, feeding between 30-35kg of silage per head per day. Feeding poor quality silage will have to be fed ad lib in order to meet the cows daily requirements
In the case of feeding hay, again ad lib is needed and if the hay is considered poor quality then 0.5kg of meal per head per day will be necessary too.
If feeding straw, which should be of good quality, then 2.0kg of meal will be required to provide the necessary nutrition especially the crude protein content (20%)
For cows that are in the score of 2-2.5 then feeding an average to good quality silage, the requirement will be 35-40 kg per head per day, again depending on quality.
For farmers feeding hay or straw, an ad lib feeding rate is the recommended, depending on quality between 0.5kg of meal per head per day, for poor quality silage as well as good quality hay and rising for poor quality hay and good quality straw, to 3.0kg per head per day in the case of straw.
Straw which is not of good quality should not be fed but kept as bedding at calving time.
Hay and straw has an advantage of contributing to easier calving and lower assisted calving rates, which any farmer would be thankful for especially at 3am on a Sunday morning.
Maintaining cows at correct condition scoring has the advantage of cutting out unnecessary costs of over feeding cows and then having to bring them back or having to feed up your cows to improve their condition. As we all know every penny counts in Irish farming.
Speak to your vet as regards minerals, especially where cows are on diets where no meal is required to be fed.
The administration of a bolus 10-12 weeks prior to calving or an injection can guarantee all necessary minerals are provided.
Hoping all our readers enjoyed a peaceful Christmas and wishing all the best for 2017.