More control over transition

Cow data keeps the herd healthy during the crucial transition period.

Calling the transition period a make-or-break moment is quite an understatement.

A troubled, stressful and unhealthy transition period can have serious consequences for the health of both a cow and her calf after calving. Extra stress for cows in the dry period could be detrimental to their health.

And on top of that, the negative effects could become a factor for multiple generations to come.

A whopping 80 per cent of diseases occur during the transition period, which means a lot of recurring herd issues stem from that time. So, what if you could spot the signs of a cow being at risk before it all goes downhill? That’s where cow data comes in.

Transition period technology

Identifying a cow that’s at risk without the use of technology is a time-consuming task. On large dairies the number of fresh cows you need to monitor can easily reach 150.

But early identification of cows at risk can save you a lot of time, trouble and money. Cow monitoring and cow data can marry these two. It can save you the time of having to check up on your cows in transition, as well as spot them for you so you prevent any issues and losses.

A cow monitoring system recognises symptoms you would never be able to identify with the naked eye. On top of that, health problems with fresh cows are usually results of issues that have gone on for much longer.

In addition, nutrition can be one of the reasons why cows become sick after calving. Cows that eat less before calving and become sick after calving already had an inflammatory response before calving.

According to Dr Peter Hut, seasoned veterinarian as well as product manager for CowManager, there are three reasons for this.

“The first is inflammation, like mastitis. Second, pain like lameness. Stress also gives this reaction. Especially chronic stress, such as with ranking or heat stress from which cows cannot recover at night,” Dr Hut said.

Early alerts for at-risk cows

Dr Hut said all these uncertainties can be identified with CowManager’s Nutrition Module, which sends out transition alerts, heat stress alerts and group stress alerts to its users.

Transition alerts can pinpoint ‘at risk’ cows, indicating the cow could be at risk for health issues after calving. So essentially, transition alerts indicate which cow is underperforming during the dry period.

“Cows are reported showing abnormalities in their behaviour and feed intake from 50 days before the calving date,“ Dr Hut said.

“These cows are at risk to become sick after calving. More than 85 per cent of these cows become really sick within 30 days after calving. You want to have these cows’ insights, so you can apply interventions to prevent them from becoming that sick.”

Prep for postpartum health issues

The alerts don’t indicate that an animal is actually sick; it notifies you that this specific cow is spending less time eating and ruminating compared to normal behaviour and the average of herd mates. This makes her an easy target for any postpartum health issues.

Dr Hut emphasises the transition alerts aren’t cause for alarm, just cause for care.

“You may think you need to do something today with an alert. With transition alerts this is not the case. Transition alerts aren’t ‘act now’ alerts, but ‘underperforming, keep an eye on her’ alerts.”

From the moment a cow gets her first transition alert, she remains ‘at risk’ for diseases until after calving.

Cows that start a treatment plan after the transition alert, can be monitored easily using the module. This helps farmers as well as their vets and other staff keep a close eye on a cow’s recovery process.

The cow monitoring module gives dairy farmers an overview of underperforming cows to keep an eye on and take extra care of, and it prepares you for which cows will be struggling after calving.

This gives farmers time to adjust their herd management plans accordingly, and not have any unwelcome surprises after an already busy period.