Rapid body condition score (BCS) loss after calving can lead to negative health implications and/or failure of going back in-calf.
After calving, cows enter a period of negative energy balance (NEB); this is due to intakes not being sufficient to maintain condition while also producing milk.
This cannot be avoided and you should not try and stop it from happening. Instead, you need to limit its impact on cows.
Cows should be closely monitored after calving to ensure that the average BCS score for the herd is 2.9.
This will help to ensure that cows are in the correct condition heading into the breeding season.
Cows in a low BCS score need to be monitored closely. It may mean that you have to create a group within the shed.
For a spring-calving herd, once-a-day (OAD) milking can be used to help cows regain condition, but this is not an option for autumn-calvers due to the higher yields.
Instead, you should consider grouping these low BCS cows. This will allow you to keep a closer eye on them and ensure they are able to access the feed.
Cows in a low BCS in the main herd might find it harder to access the feed due to older or ‘bully’ cows forcing them out.
Placing cows in this grouping takes some of the pressure off them and should make it easier for them to regain some condition.
Cows in a low condition score in the breeding season have been shown to have lower conception rates compared to cows in the correct score.
These cows failing to regain condition ahead of the breeding season might mean they do not go in-calf.
This ultimately, will impact the number of heifers you have to bring into the herd, as well as the number of cows leaving the herd.
There are several factors that can impact a cow’s fertility, but by body score conditioning cows you can eliminate one of the possible causes.