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Free ‘transition’ cow management advice for dairy farmers

Published Monday, 25th March 2019 in SAC Consulting news

East logan dry cows
Dry cows at East Logan farm

Dairy farmers will learn about the importance of effective cow transition management at an open farm event organised by Scotland’s Rural College.

The transition period covers the three weeks both before and after calving, when the dairy cow is coping with hormonal and metabolic changes.

Managing cows successfully through this period is crucial to ensuring good milking performance and reproductive success. If it is not well-managed, cows are far more susceptible to a wide range of diseases such as milk fever, fatty liver, ketosis and metritis.

Experts from SAC Consulting – part of SRUC – will be joined by speakers from Premier Nutrition, Nithsdale Vets Limited, the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and Ice Robotics, to discuss topics ranging from nutrition and metabolic profile testing to manage transition diseases, to stillbirth causes in the dairy herd and how best to monitor transition cow success.

The event, which is funded by the Universities Innovation Fund, will be held at East Logan Farm, Castle Douglas, DG7 1NX, on Tuesday 16 April from 10.30am to 2.30pm.

Run by father and son team Brian and Michael Yates, East Logan has 260 Pedigree Holstein Cows which calve all year round and are milked three times a day.

The farm was one of three finalists at AgriScot’s Scottish Dairy Farm of the Year in 2018; the herd was runner-up in the Gold Cup – the premier national dairy herds competition recognising efficiency in commercial milk production – in both 2015 and 2016; and Brian was a runner-up in the Farmers Weekly Dairy Farmer of the Year award in 2015. 

The farm is also well-known on the showing circuit, winning the Supreme Interbreed Heifer Champion at AgriScot in 2018 and the SuperHeifer category in 2017, as well as the Supreme Interbreed Champion at the Royal Highland Show in both 2013 and 2014. 

Brian says ensuring a smooth transition is a key focus area and, as a result, the incidence of transition diseases is very low in the herd.

He said: “The key to good milking performance and fertility starts with getting cows in the correct body condition score at drying off, and managing cows in the dry and transition period to minimise stress and maximise feed intakes. 

“Nutrition also has a big part to play in milk fever control and how well the cows calve down.”

Speakers at the event will include: 

  • Lorna MacPherson (SAC Consulting) and Alastair Macrae (The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies): Feeding the Transition Cow – Is it Working?
  • Tim Geraghty (SRUC Veterinary Services): Stillbirth causes and investigation in the dairy herd
  • Hugh Kerr (Nutritionist), Alistair Padkin (Nithsdale Vets Limited) and Brian Yates (host farmer): Transition cow management at East Logan
  • Katrina Henderson (SRUC Veterinary Services) and Andrew Pine (Premier Nutrition): Effect of social stress and monitoring systems for transition cows 
  • Justin Birch and Willie Cuthbertson (Ice Robotics):  Early lameness intervention and its impact on fertility at East Logan

For more information, or to book your place, please email Janis Forrest at janis.forrest@sac.co.uk or phone 0131 603 7525.

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