21 November 1997

Poor fertility fears with autumn cows

FERTILITY of autumn-calved cows could suffer as many have milked off their backs and lost condition.

Axient nutrition consultant James Shenton warns that many cows are half a condition score below optimum, following low intakes on cold, wet days at grass.

Herds with poor fertility are turning to mineral supplements for the answer, when its an energy deficiency that needs correcting. Mr Shenton urges producers, therefore, to check cow condition scores before taking remedial action.

When cows are too thin, he recommends increasing the energy in the ration, or reducing the protein so cows will gain weight. This may be achieved by increasing the proportion of maize silage in the ration, or reducing the protein % of compounds from 22 to 20 or 18%, without having to increase the amount of concentrate fed.

Mr Shenton has also seen late lactation heifers that are too thin. He advises drying off these animals three or four weeks early and feeding them well to gain condition.