28 March 1997

Advice for post-calving

CONCENTRATE levels should be increased gradually after calving and straw yards provided for up to six weeks to prevent lameness, according to Gloucs vet Roger Blowey.

Speaking at a dairy profitability workshop at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, he explained that at calving the cow spends less time ruminating.

"This, combined with a sudden increase in concentrates offered to boost initial milk yields, causes the rumen to become more acid and laminitis can occur," he said.

Laminitis caused the pedal bone to sink down onto the tissue increasing pinching between bone and sole. This causes lesions similar to blood blisters. Once the bone had slipped it never recovered its position and so these cows would always be more prone to lameness.

"Rumination must be stimulated by providing plenty of long fibre while concentrate must be built up over a three week period after calving. As the cow is more vulnerable to injuries at this time straw bedding reduces the risk of damage to the hoof," he said.