Score three ideal autumn calver target
AUTUMN calving cows should ideally be in condition score three at calving, says Signet consultant Roger Brown.
When cows look in too good condition, put them onto arable stubbles or bring them inside onto straw and water to slim them, but do not be too tough on cows at that stage in pregnancy, he warns. "Autumn calvers should be half a condition score better than spring calvers when they calve. Then they can then milk off their backs during winter and keep down feed costs."
But changing cows condition is far easier when the herd has a close calving pattern. "An extended calving pattern, with cows in various periods of lactation and with different condition scores, means individual management is needed.
"But often in a farm situation the facilities are not available to change condition of just a few cows. When the calving pattern is tight, it is still possible to treat the whole herd as one, which makes management easier."
Tinkering with weaning policy can help change cows condition. "You can leave calves on fatter cows to pull their condition down."
But producers should not forget the bulls role in calving patterns, says Mr Brown. "To have a tighter calving pattern make sure you have enough bulls; one bull for every 35 cows is about right."
He also advises giving bulls some supplementary feed before bulling to increase their energy levels and making sure they are in good enough condition to work properly. *