13 SEP 2023

Enhancing dairy herd health

As the dairy calving season kicks into full swing across most of Australia, farmers gear up to face a crucial period filled with excitement and challenges. Spring calving is a time of new beginnings, where the health and productivity of dairy herds are at the forefront of every farmer's mind.

Unveiling spring calving challenges

Spring calving, though promising for dairy operations, introduces specific challenges that require diligent management. Metabolic issues arising from high nitrate or potassium pastures can often be managed by ensuring the correct feed is offered to the herd. Metabolic diseases, a common concern during calving, can be a roadblock to achieving optimal herd health.

These diseases, even if just subclinical, not only affect cow production and energy reserves but also have a ripple effect on the survival and growth of calves. Recognising the significant consequences of these diseases emphasises the necessity of addressing nutritional imbalances and providing a balanced diet to prevent their onset. 

Strategies for success 

To mitigate challenges and bolster herd health, farmers can adopt three key strategies, in collaboration with their local Livestock Production Specialist.  

  • Tailored Nutrition Planning

Collaborate with Elders' nutritionists to formulate balanced diets catering to the specific needs of transitioning cows. Managing the shift from dry cow to lactating cow diets minimises digestive disturbances and nutritional imbalances.

  • Health Monitoring and Management 

Develop a comprehensive health monitoring program in collaboration with your vet and Elders advisors to detect metabolic diseases early. Timely intervention and proper treatment plans can prevent and manage health issues, helping ensure a disease-free spring. 

  • Optimised Calf Nutrition 

Collaborate with Elders' specialists to establish a robust calf nutrition program focusing on fortified milk powders and well-structured calf starter rations. Proper colostrum management and early calf nutrition lay the foundation for future productivity by enhancing calf immunity and growth. 

Elders is a valuable partner 

Elders' role as a partner in dairy operations is invaluable. Their access to quality products and resources, combined with strong connections to suppliers, equips farmers with tools to overcome challenges effectively. Partnering with Elders means having the necessary support to make informed decisions that drive positive outcomes. 

Showcasing your success 

Real success stories demonstrate the impact of Elders' assistance. Clients who have implemented strategies with the guidance of Elders' specialists have achieved remarkable outcomes. Although not a new concept, early weaning coupled with superior calf growth and reduced inputs showcases the efficacy of the approach. Substituting raw milk with quality replacers and calf meal has led to substantial benefits, a vital consideration in today's market. 

Harnessing technology 

Embracing technology adds another layer of effectiveness to managing spring calving challenges. Monitoring calf weights and adjusting feed requirements in response to growth and changing demands prevents underfeeding. Utilising tools like live weight scale systems, plate meters and feed testing for pasture management empowers farmers to make quality decisions with ease. 

Navigating spring calving challenges requires a multi-faceted approach that leverages specialist guidance and technological advancements. Elders provides a platform for farmers to overcome challenges, implement effective strategies, and pave the way for a successful calving season. By ensuring metabolic disease-free calving and optimising feed conversion efficiencies, farmers can set their herds on a path to sustained productivity and growth.  

Embrace Elders' expertise and technology, and embark on a journey towards thriving dairy operations this calving season and beyond.

Article written by Elders Tasmania Livestock Production Specialist Nathan Saunders.