Transition cow considerations

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We make many of our transition cow management decisions based on information available for milking cows, but the two groups have different comfort needs, notes Jim Barmore, technical services specialist for Monsanto Dairy Business. He recommends following these considerations in evaluating or developing a transition-cow program:

  • Springing heifers and cows need three weeks in the close-up pen.
  • Provide a minimum of 2 feet of bunk space per animal — 3 feet of bunk space is better.
  • Do not overcrowd the transition area. Use a stocking rate of 90 percent to 100 percent of available head locks or free-stalls.
  • Keep the bedded pack clean and provide a minimum of 80 to 100 square feet of space per animal.
  • Provide 150 square feet of space per animal in calving pens. Minimize animal time spent there.
  • Allow animals to move freely without competition for water, feed and resting space.
  • Pay more attention to cow comfort if you co-mingle cows and springing heifers or re-sort pens frequently.
  • Keep a fresh, non-sorted TMR available at all times. Don’t feed moldy or unpalatable feeds.
  • Provide heat stress abatement for far-off and close-up dry cows.
  • Provide ample waterer space so multiple cows may drink at the same time.
  • Be consistent in everything you do.

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