Research shows that nutrition impacts transition cow immunity.
"Careful nutritional management to provide highly bioavailable nutrition and to maximize metabolic health is currently our best strategy to maximize immune function," says Matt Waldron, University of Missouri assistant professor of animal science.
Here are some nutritional strategies he shared in a recent newsletter from the Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council:
• Monitor feed intake and feeding behavior. Pay attention to how much cows actually consume and watch for changes in behavior patterns. "Any significant imbalances have the potential to alter immunity," Waldron says.
• Focus on prevention. Prevent problems, or at least catch them early, to prevent "train wrecks." This can happen through increased attention to detail, as well as improved management and nutritional strategies.
• Manage for metabolic health. Invest in and practice strategies to minimize negative energy balance and the accompanying fat mobilization and ketone body production.
• Don't skimp on micronutrients. Short-term ramifications of marginal or even deficient micronutrient supplementation may not be noticeable. But, over time and as management stressors or immune insults accumulate, negative results will become apparent.
In addition to sound nutritional management, maximize hygiene and minimize cow stressors like overcrowding and pen moves.