Thursday, 19 December 2019
Boost herd health with Abamectin
With dairy herd dry-off just around the corner, now is a good time to be thinking about separating out and giving preferential treatment to those cows who need it.
This can ensure poorer cows are given the chance to gain condition in the lead up to calving and reach the target Body Condition Score (BCS) range of 5.0 for mature cows and 5.5 for first and second-calvers.
Cows within the target range respond more efficiently to weight-loss post-calving and consequently return to a rising weight-gain prior to mating. It also ensures they:
- Maximise milk production
- Maximise reproductive efficiency
- Are at lower risk of metabolic disorders
- Are at lower risk of mastitis and uterine infections
- Have an improved chance of influencing the sex of the calf – thinner cows at calving are more likely to have bull calves the following calving
- Give their heifer calves the best chance of their own reproductive success.
Using Body Condition Scoring (BCS) as a tool, assess all individual animals rather than taking a herd average to give the lighter cows the best chance of gaining weight.
Lower-scoring cows can be separated out from the main herd and fed with high-quality pasture and supplement and it is at this stage we recommend cows are treated for parasites with Abamectin Pour On. Parasites are known to reduce appetite and damage the gut, thereby limiting the cow’s ability to increase its BCS. In addition to parasites, it may also pay to consider whether other issues such as lameness or disease could be affecting their condition.
Why is BCS important?
Body Condition Scoring is a global system that was developed as an alternative tool to assessing live-weight (lwt) change.
Variable factors such as breed difference, size variation within a breed, pregnancy, change in gut-fill and animal maturity render live-weight measurement too inaccurate to be a reliable measure of an individual cow’s energy reserves.
By assessing a cow’s BCS on a scale of 1-10, we can provide a visual estimate of her body fat reserves, which helps provide useful information on her future productivity, future feed requirements and previous level of feeding.
When to condition score?
While there is never a bad time to condition score, preferential times include the autumn (to isolate those who need attention or drying off), pre-calving (to determine if management practices are having the desired effect), and at the start of mating. While the most accurate place to score is in the vet/AB race, quick scoring can be done in the field with cows selected at random.