Your herd and heifers should be in top body condition as they come into the transition period. Consider a herd drench with Eprinex to reduce worm burdens which will help support live weight targets to be met. Alternatively, you can selectively drench lighter animals along with preferentially feeding them.
Testing pasture during this period is also handy to identify any weaknesses in your grass and indicate element levels such as magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. Knowing what is in your pasture is a step in the right direction for preventing metabolic issues during the transition period and enables you to adjust your supplements accordingly. It is crucial that your springer mob is adequately supplemented with magnesium prior to calving. Correct supplementation of magnesium is key to preventing metabolic downer cows, by enabling calcium mobilization from skeleton stores and preparing cows for the high calcium demand during the colostrum period. Providing calcium supplementation post-calving is also important to prevent downer cows, especially in the more mature cows who can be prone to metabolic issues.
Injectable mineral supplements should also be considered, such as Multimin. Using this product has been proven beneficial if given 3-4 weeks prior to calving and acts as an immunity boost to support your herd's health over the calving period. Multimin contains copper, selenium, zinc, and manganese and studies have shown a significant reduction in clinical and sub-clinical mastitis in herds given multimin prior to calving. Multimin can also be used in newborn calves as a ‘kick-start’ immunity boost to combat disease in your calf sheds.
Keep up to date with your herd and heifer vaccinations and administer booster vaccines to prevent disease outbreaks. Calving is a stressful period for not only you as the farmer but also for your herd. Stress can create a predisposition to disease, therefore vaccinating is key. Consider vaccinations such as Salvexin, Lepto, and Rotavec prior to calving, especially if there has been a case history of these diseases on your farm. For vaccines such as Rotavec, the timing of the vaccine is crucial and must be given three weeks prior to the start of calving so that there are adequate maternal antibodies in the colostrum to provide protection for your calves.
Finally, keep in touch with us and make a plan unique to your farm in order to strive for the best kickstart to the season.
Dr Melissa Veltman, Farm Vet at Paeroa Vets