Dairy Event 2009: Mineral launched to tackle potash related post calving problems

A new partial Dietary Cation-Anion Balance mineral to help combat increasing levels of potash in grass silage and prevent post calving problems, was launched by Mike Lemmey ‘Easy’ Dry Cow Management at this year’s Dairy Event and Livestock Show.

Over the last decade, forage potash levels have increased by nearly 50% as a result of applying more potash fertilisers and slurry, said Mr Lemmey.

“This has lead to increasing problems with milk fever.

“Fed at 250g/cow/day in a TMR for the last three weeks prior to calving, the mineral can reduce milk fever incidence and associated problems for a total cost of £5/cow.”

And the mineral has proved its worth at Mr Lemmey’s 120 cow dairy farm, Dorset.

“About 97% of our cows calve unassisted. And because of an easy birth and better quality colostrum, calves are livelier.”

Rising levels of Potash in silage and forage is widely recognised as an increasing problem, said independent consultant, Josephine Scamell.

“This is exasperated by over use of slurry or dirty water in specific areas, with many fields being over or under treated.”

Potash levels must be carefully balanced and not made worse by excessive, additional application.

“Producers should think about artificial fertiliser application as this could double potash levels – look at ingredient constituents of artificial fertilisers to ensure you are applying the correct products to the correct land,” she said.

High potash levels can have a negative effect on cow health – not only in dry cows, but also in milking cattle.

“Potash imbalance can cause metabolic stress and have a negative effect on fertility and feed intakes.”

And mineral elements, primarily, calcium, magnesium, potash and sodium, should be balanced in the soil.

“Ensuring the correct calcium status and balanced sodium/potash ratio will help minimise metabolic problems in livestock, while enhancing quality forage production and palatability.”