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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Minimizing the number of pen moves or addition of cows to the group.
- 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.