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March 29, 2013

Avoid Disappearance of Good Early Lactation Cows from the Herd Many dairy producers have experienced this situation at one time or another. A particular cow comes into early lactation with a lot of potential for good milk production. She may have come into the barn in a little thin, but starts literally pouring out milk. Within a couple of weeks, she starts to falter in milk production and health, but after given some intravenous therapy seems to snap out of it. Months later, the producer is forced to dry her up before she completes an entire lactation cycle. There is a good chance that she is a victim of metabolic disease. It is a trap that many promising dairy cows can avoid with sound changes to their feeding programs, even before they calve and begin milking. Early lactation dairy cows are more susceptible than either modest producing and later lactation herd mates to metabolic diseases such as ketosis and related conditions from a week to months after calving, since not all energy requirements for their high milk production can be secured solely from the dairy diet. These cows are drawn into a period of severe “negative energy balance” for about six weeks after calving. In itself, the road to most ketosis affecting severely energy short dairy cows relates back to a complex chemical imbalance that occurs when dairy cows cannot get enough of a basic energy block called glucose. It is the simplest sugar in cattle metabolism, but it essentially drives all maintenance and production activities requiring energy in the dairy cow. The majority of glucose sugar for dry or lactating dairy cows is produced from dietary carbohydrates fermented and absorbed in the rumen from such sources as forage fibre, or starches found in grains. However, when these feed carbohydrates are in short supply, the dairy cow will burn her own body fats in which non-esterified fatty acids (NEFAs) are formed. They can be reconfigured into glucose. In less demanding times, NEFAs are commonly used to support liver functions and to provide fatty acid chains for milk-fat production. However, when the intake of carbohydrate-derived energy is so limited the cow may suffer from rapid body fat mobilization and weight loss. Too many NEFAs are produced for glucose transformation and a good portion of these NEFAs end up as poisonous ketone bodies. These circulating ketone bodies lead to a toxicity associated with both clinical and sub-clinical ketosis in early lactating dairy cows. Research shows that the natural incidence of overall ketosis in a wellmanaged dairy herd is less than 2 percent, while problematic herds exhibit about 6 percent actual clinical ketosis and upwards to 60 percent hidden or sub clinical ketosis. It is most prevalent at the start of lactation and traditionally has been observed in obese animals (BCS > 4.5), but also can be present in animals of modest body condition as well (BCS of 3.5). These cows tend to demonstrate a strong correlation between rapid loss of weight after calving and the presentation of ketosis often triggered in the post-partum period by: poor dry matter intake, inadequate dietary energy, poor food digestibility, digestive upsets (sub-clinical acidosis) or a hormonal imbalance affecting energy metabolism in the cow. Some studies on ketosis suggest that a general energy deficit/rapid fat mobilization may occur in dairy cows even prior to calving. Whether its circumstances are set before or after calving, preventing ketosis is a much better option than controlling the metabolic disease once it takes hold of early lactation cows. One should implement a proper transition diet (three weeks before cows calve and three weeks post-partum) in order to promote good dry matter intake and a body condition score of 3.0-3.5 in susceptible dairy cows. Such early lactation rations should be formulated to maintain good rumen function (re: effective forage fibre) and yet carry enough available dietary energy to support the demands of increasing milk production. The goal is to build up dry matter intake in early lactation cows to about 3.5-4.0 percent of their body weight at about 9-10 weeks after calving. Built on a DMI foundation of 11-13 kg, the transitional energy and protein levels are denser than faraway dry cow diets but do not quite match the early lactation diets. A typical close-up ration should contain about 0.70 Mcal Nel/kg, 14-15 percent protein, and be balanced for the recommended levels of macro-minerals (watch out for potassium that causes milk fever) and trace-minerals plus vitamins (particularly selenium and vitamin E). The actual ration put in front of the cows should contain no more than 2.53.5 kg/head/d of grain such as barley or corn. It might also have at least 2.5 kg-4.0 kg of long-stem grassy-type hay. Some producers may also incorporate 3-5 kg (DM basis) of the early lactation TMR diet. It also cannot be overemphasized that any feedstuffs fed to these cows should be highly palatable, digestible and free of moulds and mycotoxins. Clean water should also be always available when these cows come up to drink. Tying it together is good bunk management for all good feeding programs set up for both the close-up and early lactation dairy cows. This means that each cow should have enough bunk space and adequate time to eat. A properly mixed ration should be put in front of the cows, pushed up frequently and old feed removed. It is a matter of implementing any practice that will get dairy cows, before and after calving, to eat that extra kilo of feed to achieve her essential energy requirements. The importance of energy in all aspects of dairy nutrition, especially for early lactation cows cannot be overstated. We tend to forget that energy is the single largest requirement for high milk producing dairy cows. Failure to provide enough dietary energy often leads to metabolic disease such as ketosis in post-partum cows, and although treatable, some of the most afflicted cows seem to disappear from the herd. On the other hand, prevention with good transition diets and assurance of good energy status in the dairy herd throughout the year underlies healthy cows and their production of consistent, large volumes and profitable milk.

The Agri Post

New Partnership Debuts at Winter Fair By Les Kletke This year’s Royal Manitoba Winter Fair provides the opportunity for a couple of Saskatchewan firms to try a new partnership. It was the first time Fargo Clydes were showing under the Seed Hawk banner. While both operations are based in Langbank, Saskatchewan, they chose the Brandon Fair to unveil a partnership. Kimberly Fargo thought the partnership would be a good fit for her dad, Rob and Seed Hawk where she works as the Parts Documentation Cocoordinator. Rob says it is something he had thought about in the past but this year finally made the pitch to Pat Beaujot the principal of Seed Hawk. The Fargo’s decaled their wagon and put new signage around their stalls at the Keystone Centre. Fargo explained why a seed equipment manufacturer would sponsor a Clydesdale hitch. “We get his name out in front of 20,000 people every day,” said Rob Fargo who has shown at Brandon for years and knows the popularity of the giant horses. “Plus the traffic through the barn that promotes his name to people coming through.” Fargo has been breeding Clydesdales for over 30 years and has sold horses into some of the top hitches in North America including black Clydesdales into the Express Hitch operated by Bob Funke. He has sold horses coast to coast and raised five of six horses used in a high profile Philadelphia hitch. He says the horse market has slowed in recent years particularly from the time when a 10-mile radius of his farm had 24 PMU operations, “That was the boom time and while we were never in the business it did generate a lot of money for the horse business.” The recent food scandal with horsemeat being passed off for beef has also hurt the industry,

Kimberly Fargo has brought together work and her love of horses, while she works for Seed Hawk the Royal Winter Fair sponsorship of the family hitch was a first for both operations. Photo by Les Kletke

which he says, was already down because of a drop in horse consumption in Japan. “That market was probably off 40 cents a pound this year,” he noted. The meat industry provides an outlet for the lower quality colts, “Quality horses will always sell and the medium range has a market for the hitch that might be looking to upgrade, but we still need a market for the lower end and that has dropped off.” Fargo says the Royal is a proving ground for the relationship with Seed Hawk and the pair will revisit the agreement after the Fair. “We hope it goes well and would like to wear their colors to another 10 or so shows through August.”

CFGB Celebrates 30 Years and Issues “30 for 30” Challenge By Elmer Heinrichs The Canadian Food Grains Bank (CFGB) is celebrating its 30th anniversary by issuing a new challenge to farmers across Canada and Harold Penner, Manitoba Resource Coordinator for the CFGB, is hoping it will catch on locally. “We’re issuing the ’30 for 30 challenge’ and see it as another way to involve farmers in raising money to help end hunger,” said Penner. Farmers donating grain and running growing projects have been key to CFGB’s raising of resources, said the coordinator, adding that last year Manitoba farmers had 4,800 acres in crop in just over 30 projects. “Now we are asking those who have not been involved until now, to consider donating the crop from 30 acres of their farms as a one year commitment to honour the 30th anniversary of the CFGB,” added Penner. “If a farmer would like to get involved but finds 30 acres too much for his farm, he can perhaps get together with a few neighbours and share a 30-acre commitment.” “Of course we will accept any donation,” clarified Penner. “The number 30 is only a starting point to

“...go to a growing project close by and offer to add 30 acres...”

draw attention to the cause.” “Since we have growing projects all over the province, the best way for a farmer to get involved is to go to a growing project close by and offer to add 30 acres to the growing project. With the understanding that the donor will actually do all the work himself,” said Penner and adding that another way is to sign up directly. All the information is available on their website or anyone can call him at 204-347-5695 or email “The benefits and goals of this program are to find a way to involve more people in helping with the cause of ending hunger. This helps to bring in more resources, but also helps people to remember the poor and hungry and find other ways to help,” said Penner. He would love to see 30 Manitoba farms sign up for the program and add another 900 acres of production for CFGB. “I invite people to join in bringing a bit more justice for the poor in this world, where almost one in seven people does not have enough to eat,” concluded Penner.

AgriPost March 29 2013  

Manitoba agriculture news and features

AgriPost March 29 2013  

Manitoba agriculture news and features