Pre-fresh Cows: Are They Ready to Transition?

Published on Fri, 02/23/2018 - 12:44pm

 Pre-fresh Cows: Are They Ready to Transition?

 Article provided by Agri-King

Preparing pre-fresh cows to properly transition from the dry period to lactation is instrumental to the success of every dairy herd.  Some basic goals when preparing pre-fresh cows to transition are:  maximize dry matter intake before and after calving, maintain immune function, minimize body fat mobilization around calving, and maintain blood calcium and magnesium concentrations at and after calving.  If this is not done several problems can occur such as:  sub-clinical or clinical hypocalcemia (milk fever), displaced abomasum, retained placenta, ketosis, dystocia, metritis, and decreased fertility.  

Milk fever)/sub-clinical milk fever may be the leading issue predisposing dairy cows to displaced abomasum, retained placenta or ketosis after freshening. Sub-clinical hypocalcemia will lead to reduced dry matter intake at a time when dry matter intake is at its lowest, which will increase body condition loss after calving.

Balancing pre-fresh diets is one aspect of pre-fresh cow management that can minimize problems after calving.  One important aspect of balancing a pre-fresh cow diet is Agri-King’s pre-fresh cow index (PCI).  The goal with adjusting the PCI is to create a diet that will acidify the blood and cause the urine pH to be between 5.5 and 6.5.  This pH range tells us we have successfully put the pre-fresh cows in a controlled state of metabolic acidosis which forces calcium to be released (in the form of calcium carbonate) from the bones. Calcium carbonate will buffer the acids in the blood and provide free calcium that can be used by the cow to prevent milk fever and other metabolic issues.  The calcium that can be obtained from the bones is the most important calcium for preventing milk fever/sub-clinical milk fever and other metabolic issues at calving.

Vitamin E is a critical nutrient in every pre-fresh ration. It is recommended that at least 2000 IU/day of vitamin E be supplemented in the pre-fresh ration. The use of Agri-King’s Dry Cow Micro Pak, in combination with Super MIcro, will accomplish the goal of increasing vitamin E to 2000 IU/day in the pre-fresh diet.  Because the transition period includes the first 21 days after calving Agri-King’s new AK Bovine REPLETE should be used in post–fresh cow diets to maintain elevated vitamin E concentrations at a time when DMI is still reduced, but starting to increase.    

Properly transitioning a pre-fresh cow through calving and into lactation requires some of the most important (if not most important) dietary management throughout the lactation cycle. Using the Agri-King program can improve the transition of pre-fresh cows to lactation.  The Agri-King program will properly balance PCI, starch and energy, as well as, supplement proper fortification through the use of Dry Cow Micro Pak, Super Micro, and AK Bovine REPLETE.  Contact your local Agri-King Area Manager who will assist in the management of this critical period in the cow’s cycle.