“You can have the best diet on paper in the world, but if you don’t have the management, minerals and body condition in place, you’re on the back foot straight away.”

This was the message from InTouch specialist Mark Moloney at the Keenan workshop held in Co. Wicklow, on Thursday last, November 23.

The workshops are operated under the company’s ‘Focus for 150’ programme, which focuses on the period around calving.

On the day, four key pillars surrounding the dry period were discussed. These were: management; minerals; body condition score; and nutrition.

Mark Moloney addressing farmers on the day

The importance of the correct body condition score is well documented when it comes to calving. While it is important to identify thin cows, it is also vitally important to avoid having cows in too much condition.

On the day, Eimear Murray – InTouch nutritionist – outlined that the ideal body condition score – for spring-calving cows – is 3-3.25 at calving; it is important that this job is carried out in time so changes can be made accordingly.

Research has indicated that fat cows are the most problematic at calving and in the post-calving period.

Also Read: ‘Fat dairy cows will be the most problematic at calving’

“Nutrition is the last pillar. Once you have the management, minerals and the body condition right going into the dry period, then you can look at nutrition,” Mark explained.

“The key aim is to have the cow calving down with no metabolic issues, that she is in a correct body condition score and that you are limiting the negative energy balance after calving and maximising intake.”

Also speaking at the event, Alltech’s Richard Dudgeon explained the importance of minerals in the dry-cow diet.

Also Read: What minerals are required by the dairy cow during the dry period?

“The importance of the dry-cow period is to build up the reserve of minerals in cows because – once she calves – a lot of the problems happen in the first couple of days post calving. So, she needs the right amount of nutrients so she can cope with those challenges,” Richard explained.