20 September 1996

Calving snags are on the increase

VETS are seeing a rise in calving difficulties this season.

Most cases are due to cows being dried off earlier than usual by producers facing quota concerns, says Cheshire vet Neil Howie.

"Dry cows tend to be turfed out wherever there is grass. This year they will have been out for longer than normal, and many will be over-fit. I believe the size of calf is determined at seven months, and when a cow is over-fed she is likely to produce a much larger calf."

Fat cows are likely to have less room for a large calf, be more prone to metabolic disorders and more liable to succumb to milk fever, he warns.

"Cows should be dried off in the condition you want them to calve, and then fed a maintenance-only diet," says Mr Howie.

"Increase silage access and offer a small amount of concentrate with high quality protein towards calving. Dry cow minerals should be fed the whole way through."