Management practices can make a big difference when it comes to helping fresh cows eat well after calving and enter lactation with no or very minimal health- and metabolic-related issues.

Donna Amaral-Phillips, University of Kentucky, notes that social, environmental and metabolic stresses can be lessened by:

  1. Providing adequate feedbunk space so cows stand less and eat when they need to. To prevent potential problems with lameness and other metabolic disorders after calving, close-up dry cows should be provided with 36 inches/cow of feedbunk space.
  2. Providing adequate resting space that is clean, dry and comfortable. Giving cows a clean, dry environment is critical, as during this time frame, cows naturally have a lower immune function and are more susceptible to infections, such as mastitis and metritis.
  3. Minimizing the number of pen moves or addition of cows to the group.
  4. Each time new cows are added to a group, the social hierarchy within the group is changed and must be re-established. When possible, multiple cows, rather than single cows, should be introduced into a group together.