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Blocks help minimise metabolic disorder risks in herds

Blocks help minimise metabolic disorder risks in herds

It’s the calm before the calving season and a bit of planning now will help herds get through without the risk of metabolic disorders, such as milk fever, which can lead to downer cows or impact future milk production.

The disorders are prevalent just before or after calving, triggered by an inability to mobilise enough calcium. Subclinical cases of milk fever can be hard to pick up, with industry data indicating that for every downer cow it is likely that between 10 and 15 others in the herd will have early stage milk fever symptoms.

“It’s estimated that the cost of a clinical case of milk fever can reach up to $1,500 per cow* – including lost milk production, reduced fertility, and increased likelihood of culling due to other diseases such as mastitis. Not only is the risk a costly one, it’s also unnecessary,” says SealesWinslow Product Development Manager, Jackie Aveling.

Jackie explains there is a clear link between nutrients and vitamins, and reproduction and lactation in dairy herds.

“Using supplements pre and post calving is a good preventative strategy for metabolic diseases and also sets up cows well for lactation post calving. What’s important is ensuring supplements are readily available well before the calving really picks up from July.”

Dehydrated molasses blocks, such as Crystalyx Dry Cow can be used as a sole source supplement, and need to be available to stock for 60 days prior to calving and then throughout the colostrum period. The dehydrated molasses helps to ensure cows get the right intake, and the minerals and vitamins help to improve the general immunity of the cow.

Other options include SealesWinslow’s Cattle High Magnesium Block or the Cattle Winter Crop Block. Both are suitable for farmers who want cost-effective delivery of pre-calving magnesium supplementation as part of a programmed approach, and will help ensure stock receive the minerals and trace elements they need.

Farm trials for Crystalyx, conducted over two consecutive years, have shown dehydrated blocks are more effective than mineral supplementation dusting or dosing. The repeated trial work done by Dr Mark Oliver, a researcher contracted to Auckland UniServices Limited by the University of Auckland, saw a control herd supplemented with magnesium and trace elements following current best practice guidelines, and the other Crystalyx Dry Cow. In the first year the control cows recorded a significantly higher incidence of retained placentas (11% compared to 2.6%), while mastitis incidence also tended to be higher (9.0% versus 3.9%). A second trial achieved similar outcomes with lower rates of mastitis and retained placentas in the herd given access to the dehydrated block.

Mrs Aveling says farmers participating in the trials also commented that cows on Crystalyx were calmer, quiet and settled well into milking.


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