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Fat Cows Mean Difficult Autumn Calving

04 August 2011

SCOTLAND, UK - While this year’s early spring and the summer’s abundant grass growth have been good news for stock performance overall, the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) is warning farmers that the extra weight this may have added to their autumn calving cows could lead to calving difficulties down the line.

SAC is urging producers with autumn calving herds to immediately assess the condition of their cows. If they are much fitter than normal, producers should discuss the options with their SAC adviser or vet for immediate steps to reduce their condition.

SAC beef specialist Gavin Hill explained: “Many areas of Scotland have had a tremendous summer for grass growth with silage pits now overflowing. Stock have also had a good summer with the early spring and ample supplies of grass supporting high levels of performance."

“While for most stock high levels of performance is good news, for autumn calving cows it can cause major problems if they become too fat, with a much greater risk of calving difficulties.”

SAC has issued the following advice:

  • Stock dry cows heavily on bare grass fields or even cereal stubbles and provide protection against magnesium tetany
  • Where facilities are available house the fattest animals and put them on ad-lib straw supplemented with one litre/head/day of a high protein (around 35 per cent CP) liquid pour-on. The animals will also need a mineral/vitamin mix designed for feeding with straw rations
  • Housing will make it easier to assist cows should they need help at calving
  • Weaning can be delayed but cows will need three weeks dry prior to calving if they are to produce adequate colostrum
  • If the first animals calving have severe calving difficulties then discuss with your vet the possibility of routinely inducing calving for the remainder
  • Particular attention should be paid to in-calf heifers which are likely to be very fat and usually have more difficulties than cows

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