Longevity in dairy cows

Ensure a high lifetime milk production from the dairy herd

Dairy farmers place a high priority on their animals’ health to ensure that their herd has a high lifetime milk production. It sounds simple, but farms have to work on this every single day.

Healthy cows guarantee good milk yields and produce plenty of energetic calves. The production consultants Cattle of AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG work with dairy farmers to achieve high lifetime milk production with holistic concepts and products. For this, the most important factors are compound feed, mineral and supplement feed, milk replacer and hygiene.

Preparation for life as a dairy cow

A productive organism is necessary for a long life. The lungs, udder tissues and pancreas are the main priorities. The lungs need approximately twelve months in order to develop fully. This is why a healthy atmosphere in stables for young cattle is so important. In contrast, udder tissue and the pancreas are fully developed after just a few weeks and abnormal development can no longer be compensated by subsequent growth. For that reason, intensive calf rearing with CombiMilk and CombiKorn is the first step to influence the longevity of cows.

Ensuring a balanced supply of minerals

Dairy cows lose approximately 115 g of minerals and vitamins through their udders during a daily milking of 40 kg. This shows why a balanced supply of minerals is indispensable for promoting the longevity of a dairy herd. Animals are sometimes very sensitive to mineral and vitamin deficiencies. Chronic hoof diseases, high cell counts in milk, dry shaggy coats, difficulties calving, stillbirths and increasing numbers of infertile dairy cows are the obvious consequences of a herd that does not have a balanced supply of minerals. The many varieties of VitaMiral that combat mineral deficiencies effectively in the barn and at pasture. It supplements the mineral and vitamin requirements associated with various types of staple feed and rations effectively and appropriately to needs.

Important ways to improve longevity

A long duration of use and high milk yields lay the foundation for economically viable dairy farming. The well-being of animals must be ensured in order to fully exploit the genetic potential of cattle. Hoof problems and udder disorders, as well as fertility problems, are nowadays some of the most frequently encountered issues in dairy herds. Frequent clearing of gangways (at least twice a day) is a proven way of minimising damp and reducing the risk of infection on walking and lying surfaces in sheds. To maintain hoof and udder health, it is sensible to spread hygiene lime on walking and lying surfaces every day and apply a teat disinfectant after milking with products from the Desintec range.

Ensuring a safe start to lactation

The use of Crystalyx makes staple feed more digestible and increases dry matter intake by 5 per cent on average. The use of Crystalyx also results in an efficient, ruminant-appropriate increase in overall energy intake, especially at times when the energy balance is negative, such as after calving. This reduces energy deficiencies and prevents the risk of secondary conditions.

Preventing negative effects

Critical situations demand particular attention: 40 per cent of losses of dairy cows occur in the first 100 days of lactation. This underlines the fact that the period around calving and the start of lactation is a stressful situation for dairy cows. Metabolic diseases such as ketosis or milk fever often have an adverse effect on health, and thus longevity and efficiency, in this period. For example, using Miravit MaltoDrink, a mix of propylene glycol, glycerine and malt extract, can minimise the risk of suffering ketosis in such situations.