How is your spring 2016 suckler calving season going? A report from the SAC…

How is your spring 2016 suckler calving season going? A report from the SAC…

As would be expected we are seeing plenty of suckler calves through the PM room at the moment with the expected range of diagnoses.

Every year is different and every farm is different, but below is a summary of some of the stand out conditions we have been seeing through lab and discussing with vets and farmers this April:

  • The weather is having a significant effect this season with grass growth slow and cows with calves at foot being retained inside for longer than optimal.
  • Sudden deaths in 2-3 week old suckled calves have been seen quite commonly with the most frequent diagnosis being navel ill and its secondary complications.  As always this relates back to navel hygiene, housing hygiene and colostrum management in the early days of life.
  • Some herds have reported high twinning rates with an associated effect on cow body condition score.  These cows will require targeted management to ensure a return to ovarian function and optimum fertility.
  •  There have been reports of cows in average to good body condition with poor milk production and associated calf health problems.  Some are being investigated in more detail, in particular what effect silage quality in the winter ration might have had.  In these cases knowing the silage analysis is really important to determine the need for any supplementation for those cows still to calve.
  • Some farms are reporting oversized calves with associated dystocia / calf viability issues with increased numbers of caesareans.   There is published evidence to suggest that in heifers, calf birth weight is reduced by restricted protein in mid pregnancy. Under nutrition can also lead to an increase in the diameter of the blood vessels in the umbilical cord allowing a compensatory increase in blood flow to the foetus. It is speculated that this could lead to foetal oversize if cows undergo a period of feed restriction with a period at the end of pregnancy when feeding rates are increased to compensate.
  • Slow calving syndrome and reduced calf viability have been reported in some herds.  Consideration of cow body condition plus a full silage analysis including minerals is important here again.

Of course (and we hope) that while these are some of the problems, many farms will have had a successful calving, on the whole trouble free.  We would be keen for your feedback on how things are going and of course to discuss cases if required.

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