Calf problems that become apparent in spring often have their origins from now on. According to the manufacturers of Lifeline, Ireland’s leading precalver, poor nutrition during the dry cow period can reduce colostrum quality.
This can also leave the calf more exposed to disease even if its mother was vaccinated.
Minerals like Copper, Zinc, Iodine, Cobalt and Selenium control the protective elements of the immune system and need to be fed at the correct levels for at least five weeks before calving as colostrum begins to be formed at this early stage.
Feeding Magnesium will help ensure that the calf is born with less difficulty and they can drink as much colostrum as they can get in the first three hours of life.
Lifeline, which has been shown to improve colostrum quality by 25% (25% more antibodies), has sufficient trace elements to ensure that cow’s calve more easily and their immune system can provide their calf with protection.
The cost per day is 10-12c per cow or €3.50-€4.00 per calf born. Other precalvers may cost 50c per calf less but don’t offer the colostrum boosting affect as Lifeline is a patented product.
It is worth focusing on improving colostrum quality as it is so variable.
In Northern Ireland, work by the Agri-Food and Bioscience Institute (AFBI) found only 56% of samples offered sufficient protection for calves (figure 1).
Volume can also vary and recent work by Amanda Dunn who recently completed her PhD at AFBI found that feeding up to 3kg of concentrates to dairy cows increased colostrum volume and it had no negative effect on quality.
It is important to ensure the concentrate is a specific dry cow feed as using standard feed can increase milk fever cases. For more information on Lifeline products click here