High risk of fat cows could lead to difficult spring calvings

Farmers are being warned of a high risk of over fat cows this spring following good forage availability and quality last summer.

Experts from Scotland’s Rural College say difficult calvings will be influenced by the condition of the cow. They suggest producers with herds due to calve this spring should set aside an hour to walk among their cows and discuss how fit they really think they are.

The objective is to identify which cows, if any, need to be slimmed down urgently.

SRUC beef specialist Basil Lowman says if there is a proportion of obese cows, with rings of fat clearly visible around their tail-head then these should be drawn out into a separate group and put on to a well-balanced, straw based ration to encourage them to lose as much fat as possible prior to calving.

“This may seem just extra costs and hassle, but compared with severe calving difficulties, caesareans or even casualties it will be time and money extremely well invested,” says Dr Lowman.

Dr Lowman says a suitable slimming ration would consist of ad lib straw, 2 kg/cow/day of rapeseed meal and 120g/cow/day of a mineral and vitamin mix suitable for straw based rations.

“It is essential the protein and mineral/vitamin intake of the cow is maintained, otherwise their rumen will become impacted and they will die,” he adds.