DAIRY FARMING:  Investing in the transition cow.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, most dairy cows are kept in small-holder farms, in which farmers are confronting several production problems related to POOR FEED and FEEDING MANAGEMENT.

An important period is the Transition period, which is from 3 weeks before to 3 weeks after calving. The most important physiological change occurring during this period is the decrease in feed intake around parturition (giving birth) and sudden increase in nutrients that cows need for milk production. As a result of these changes most of the infectious diseases and metabolic disorders occur during this time.

Calving-related disorders result in significant economic losses to dairy producers through reduction in reproductive performance and milk yield during the subsequent lactation, cost of treatments and increased culling. The most relevant calving-related disorders are hypocalcemia, retained fetal membranes, metritis, and ketosis, displacement of the abomasum, mastitis and lameness.

It is, therefore, pertinent to address some nutritional strategies to facilitate the passage of the cow through this transition phase; while minimizing health problems and optimizing productivity/ profitability for the remainder of the ensuing lactation.

During both the pre-partum and post-partum transition period cows require more energy than they are able to consume resulting in Negative Energy Balance (NEB) and the concomitant loss of body weight (condition) to supply the required energy. This increase in energy demand is partially met by the DMI (dry matter intake) and partially by the mobilization of body tissues. Excessive body catabolism is undesirable for health, reproduction, and milk production. It is, therefore, essential to pay particularly close attention to the formulation of rations in this transition period, both pre- and post-partum.

The use of bypass fat in rations of transition dairy animals is very crucial for enhancing the energy density of the feed. Rumen By-Pass Fat is dietary fat that resists lipolysis and bio-hydrogenation (hence not available to the animal) in rumen by rumen microorganisms, but gets digested in lower digestive tract.  Among all forms of bypass fat, calcium salts of long chain fatty acids are relatively less degradable in rumen, has highest intestinal digestibility and serve as an additional source of calcium. Supplementation of bypass fat had no adverse effect on the rumen fermentation, feed intake, and digestibility of nutrients and different blood parameters of the dairy animals. The milk yield is increased by 5 – 24.0% along with the improvement in post-partum recovery of the body weight and body condition score and reproductive performance of the dairy animals.

 

Magnapac is a highly digestible rumen by-pass calcium fatty acid (bypass fat).it allows us to improve energy density of the cow’s diet.

Dairy Feeding program (305 day milking, and 8 weeks dry period)

  1. 3 weeks prior to calving, give 450g/cow/day MAGNAPAC
  2. Post calving; continue giving MAGNAPAC at the same inclusion rate until peak milk production or about 5 weeks post calving. For better results continue giving Magnapac up to 100 days post calving.