A number of nutritional products and feeding management strategies can be used as supportive treatment for various metabolic and infectious diseases. Proper nutrition can minimize the incidence or help control metabolic, infectious, and reproductive disorders in a dairy herd.
There are several indicators that a possible nutritional problem exits. Consider the following when evaluating a herd:
- Abnormally high incidence of metabolic disorders. Usually an incidence greater than 10 to 15% in a herd is considered a problem.
- Increased incidence of infectious disease and poor response of animals to vaccinations.
- Higher than normal occurrence of weak or silent heats and low conception rate.
- Milk fat content that deviates more or less than 0.3% from breed average for the season of year.
- Milk protein content that deviates more or less than 0.2% from breed average for the season of year.
- High incidence of off-flavors in milk, especially rancidity, oxidized or cardboardy milk, and malty or unclean tastes.
- Excessive decline in milk production, failure to achieve high milk yields during peak lactation, and generally lower production than what nutrition or genetics would warrant.
- Greater than 10% of the herd is classified in the extreme categories of body condition. This would be based on the five point scale of 1=very thin and 5=obese.
- Depressed dry matter intakes for the whole herd or within certain milking groups.
For more complete information, see Therapeutic Nutrition for Dairy Cattle.