Metabolic issues, such as acidosis, come about primarily as a result of incorrect nutritional management rather than any genetic predisposition. In addition to those cows that show outward signs of metabolic problems, up to 50% may also be suffering with subclinical issues. This means that they won’t be maximising early lactation yield and may not get in calf either.

Incorrect feeding in early lactation, can lead to acid conditions in the rumen, which reduces the function of the bugs in the rumen. Problems which come about from this are reduced feed intake and passage of food through the gut. In addition, cudding is reduced which makes the problem worse as there’s not enough saliva to buffer the acid. Issues in early lactation can be confounded by an inadequate feeding regime in the dry (transition) period.

The good news is that there is plenty that can be done to prevent metabolic disorders like acidosis, its all about the rumen bugs! Spreading concentrate feeds over the day will prevent fluctuations in rumen acidity and feeding starchy feeds in modest amounts over the day will limit rumen pH and allow the bugs to do their job. Alternatively, less starchy concentrates can be fed such as Buffa-lac HDF. Also, don’t expect your cows to clean up, there should be a bit of food left over. Ensuring all cows (including the shy heifers!) have access to clean water and providing licks to encourage saliva production will also help out the bugs!

You can also ask: Is the forage fibre too long so that cows can sort it? Is there sufficient long fibre of 3 – 5cms, with sufficient scratch factor? Are the cows sorting the mix, removing concentrates, which again leads to acid in the rumen? Are the cows comfortable (check for rub marks on their neck)? Is the food that’s left over the same as the mix that was fed in the morning?

In addition, overhauling your transition cow regime will ensure your cows are in good shape when they enter the milking herd. A sudden change onto the energy dense early lactation diet will lead to acidosis in fresh cows. We’ll be happy to suggest further ways in which your transition cows’ nutritional regime can be improved.

For more information on Actisaf and it’s role in preserving the balance of the cow’s rumen please follow the link or for a price please call Sally Cornforth on 01765 680216

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