Current Topics in Transition Cow Nutrition and Diet

Ron Kuck, Livestock Specialist
North Country Regional Ag Team

March 19, 2016

A shift is now underway in the mindset of dairy farmers to treat transition cows not as a disease opportunity but now considering them as production and reproduction opportunities. Key components in management can be broken down into different management sectors:

Nutritional Management such as adequate physical effective NDF is very important in fresh cows. Some studies suggest feeding higher starch rations in the immediate postpartum period may improve metabolism while other studies suggest lower starch during this period can lead to better performance. Furthermore the optimum starch level may depend on the NDF levels of the postpartum diet (M.M. McCarthy, H.M. Dann, TR Overton; Cornell University, Miner Institute, Cornell University)

Other Nutritional management topics under discussion is tighter control of macro minerals specifically refocusing on calcium metabolism -hypocalcemia- in the transition cow. As stated above in the first paragraph Fresh cow ration starch content is important and how does adding monenesin affect intake, production and energy metabolism? The customary question of are my cows consuming diet as formulated and is still real.

Non-nutritional management such as is a fresh cow group really needed and minimizing stressors are now standard points to consider.

The use of a fresh pen continues to grow in popularity, especially for dairies that
are expanding herd size and/or building new facilities.

A fresh pen and its management can greatly influence fresh cow behavior. A fresh pen typically houses a smaller group of cows from the lactating groups which reduces the social activity and possibly leads to less social stress and more resting. The feed bunk of a fresh pen should be understocked and provide at least 30 inches of space or at least 1 headlock per cow. Limited feed bunk space increased the number of displacements and feeding rates of cows before and after calving in a University of British Columbia study. Fresh cows that were overcrowded at the feed bunk altered their feeding behavior (e.g. increased feeding rate) and increased the risk for health problems associated with slug-feeding in a collaborative study between Miner Institute and the

University of British Columbia. (Heather Dann-Miner Institute

Pulling a transition cow plan together requires more emphasis on real time monitoring at the cow and herd level. Consult with your veterinarian to install monitoring systems in place using physical and technology tools to help identify the need for managerial improvement and to keep all systems a go.

While much as been learned more work still needs to be done. With steady and consistent adoption of what we do know at the farm level, transition cow success is attainable!











calendar of events

Upcoming Events

Herbicide Resistant Weed Control in NNY

December 6, 2019
10:45am - 12:15pm
Adams, NY

Herbicide resistant marestail has been found in several fields NNY. This weed has the potential to quickly spread to other fields and will become a much bigger problem to deal with next spring. Resistant marestail will be most difficult to control in soybeans but can also be a problem in corn and winter wheat as well. If you are a soybean grower plan on attending this meeting to learn about effective herbicide resistant weed control strategies and how to deal with resistant marestail on your farm.
  • 1.25 NYS DEC pesticide credits (categories 1A, 10, 21, 23)
  • 1.0 CCA CEU

view details

REDUCED Cow Comfort Workshop - Freestalls and Tie Stalls

December 6 - December 9, 2019
9:30am - 3:00pm
Lowville, NY 13367, NY

December 6th - Scotty's Diner, 1049 US -11, Moira, NY
December 9th - CCE of Jefferson County

Please click here to register.

view details

Private Pesticide Applicator Certification Training

December 11, 2019
12:30pm - 2:45pm
Lowville, NY

Do you want to buy and apply restricted use pesticides for your own farm?

This is short course will provide an overview of the certified pesticide applicator laws and regulations. It will also cover the key concepts that pesticide applicators need to learn prior to taking the applicator certification exam.

view details


Farm Financial Office Hours with Kesley O'Shea

Click here to view dates and times for your county.

Preventing Sexual Harassment on Farms

Employee Resources
Click here to view.

USDA Announces New Decision Tool for New Dairy Margin Coverage Program

Click here for more information.