Should you use one ration for transition cows or two? According to research conducted at Cornell University and presented at the Southwest Nutrition and Management Conference this spring, the answer is, it depends.

Researchers compared four groups: Cows with a body condition score (BCS) of 3.0 or less and those with a BCS of 3.25 or higher were fed either the close-up diet for the entire transition period, or fed separate far-off and close-up diets. Cows with a BCS of 3.0 or less fed the two-stage diet produced the most milk in the first five months of lactation. Cows with a BCS of 3.25 or higher faired better in milk production when fed the close-up diet the entire time.

These results show that replenishing end of lactation BCS isn't as important as once thought as long as thin cows receive a two-ration transition program.