A key goal during the transition period is to reduce social, environmental and metabolic stressors. Keep things simple and minimize change, advises Gene Boomer, manager of field technical services with Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition. Here are some suggestions:

• Avoid unnecessary pen changes which can result in a drop in dry matter intake.
• When needed, move cows once per week and in groups of 10 or more, keeping heifers and multi-lactation cows separate.
• Keep stocking density at a maximum of 100 percent, with a goal of 85 percent based on feed bunk space.

It also is important to maximize cow comfort and maintain dry matter intake before calving. Aim for intakes greater than 28 pounds per day for multi-lactation cows and greater than 24 pounds per day for first-lactation animals, Boomer says. Also, supply about 17–19 Mcals of metabolizable energy and 1,100–1,200 grams of metabolizable protein per day.

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