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Dry and Transition Cow Nutrition

Feeding Dry Cows Correctly is more Difficult than Feeding High Producing Lactating Cows (True/False) Lactating: High DMI is almost everything Moderate overfeeding is ok Wide array of potential feeds Major problem is short-lived Dry: Correct DMI is almost everything Moderate overfeeding is not ok Limited potential ingredients Problems are long lasting

Bill Weiss Department of Animal Sciences OARDC/The Ohio State University

Major Goals
1. Prevent problems associated with calving and early lactation 2. Allow cows to have high milk yields 3. Produce a healthy calf -60 d

-21 d



Pre Fresh



Dry cow: Energy

NEL Requirements Average Holstein: ~14 Mcal/day Average Jersey: ~11 Mcal/day Feed to maintain body condition Dry-off at 3.5, calve at 3.5 Never let cows lose condition Small gain (< 0.5 units) ok if thin cows

DM Intake by dry cows

Theory 1. Maintain high intakes -Intake prepartum correlated with intake post-partum - High intakes reduce ketosis and DA Feed a diet that allows Cows to eat 1.8 2% of BW


DM Intake by dry cows

Good quality dry cow diet: 30% corn silage, 50% average grass hay, 20% concentrate Holstein cow: ~13 kg/d Holstein heifer: ~11 kg/d Jersey cow: ~10 kg/d Jersey heifer ~ 8 kg/d

NEL Intake
NEL requirement = 14 Mcal/d DMI = 13 kg/d Good quality dry cow diet = ~1.5 Mcal/kg 13 kg x 1.5 = 19.5 Mcal/d (+ 5.5 Mcal/d) 5.5 Mcal/d x 60 day = 330 Mcal = 0.7 BCS

DM Intake by dry cows

Theory 2. Meet NEL requirement -Dry cows that gain condition have more metabolic problems - DM intake decreases less near parturition Feed a diet that allows Cows to eat ~ 1.5% of BW

DM Intake by dry cows

Adequate NEL dry cow diet: 80% average grass hay, 20% concentrate Holstein cow: ~11 kg/d Holstein heifer: ~9.5 kg/d Jersey cow: ~9 kg/d Jersey heifer ~ 7.5 kg/d

NEL Intake
NEL requirement = 14 Mcal/d DMI = 11 kg/d Adequate NEL dry diet = ~1.35 Mcal/kg 11 kg x 1.35 = 15 Mcal/d (+ 1 Mcal/d) 1 Mcal/d x 60 day = 60 Mcal = 0.2 BCS

Low quality forages reduce intake Excess corn silage (high energy) reduce intake Medium quality grass (60% NDF) is good Can feed limited corn silage (<25%)


Think simple and cheap

Major minerals
Feed to requirements

Total diet CP = 12 - 13% (maybe 13.5 if lots of heifers) From plant sources, dont worry about bypass protein, but no urea

Deficiencies of Ca, P, Mg = milk fever Excesses of Ca, P, K = milk fever Excesses of Na and maybe K = edema Excess of S = ketosis and maybe RP

Challenges of feeding transition cows

Diets change greatly after calving Low DM intake -60 d

-21 d



Large change in requirements

Energy, glucose, calcium, and protein

Pre Fresh

Metabolism of cow changes at calving



Immune suppression

Prefresh Options
1. Feed high fiber/energy correct diet during entire dry period (no prefresh) 2. Feed high fiber with anionic salts (~2wk prefresh) 3. Feed a Transition Diet with or without salts (2-3 wk prefresh)

Transition Groups
Dry Cows Dry Cows PreFr Lactating Cows Lactating Cows Fresh PreFr Fresh Lact Lact

Dry Cows Dry Cows


Anionic salts (reduce DCAD)

DCAD = (Na + K) (Cl + S)
Reduce milk fever Reduce hypocalcemia
may reduce RP may reduce DA

DCAD = (Na + K) (Cl + S) Prefresh: DCAD = -10 to -20 mEq/100 g Na, mEq/100 g = %Na/0.023 K, mEq/100 g = %K/0.039 Cl, mEq/100 g = %Cl/0.0355 S, mEq/100 g = %S/0.016

Can reduce DMI Can increase ketosis

Who should use anionic salts?

High K forages Milk fever is a problem Prefresh cows fed TMR DMI can be monitored

Proper use of anionic salts

Feed enough so that urine is acidic
pH 6.2 to 6.5

Increase dietary calcium to ~1.25 ??? Increase Mg to 0.4% Feed for only 2 to 3 weeks Make sure DMI is not depressed too much

Not everybody should feed these things

A Transition Prefresh Diet

~50% NDF Dry cow diet
10 kg

Diet ingredients
Blend of dry cow and fresh cow
Hay Grass No fat No RUP Low grain silage alfalfa and corn silage supplemental fat RUP sources higher grain

~8% Starch

Prefresh diet

~32% NDF

Lactation diet

16 kg

~26% Starch

But you cant just blend the two


Nutrient composition
NOT average of dry and fresh cow diets Specific needs for
Carbohydrates (fiber, starch) Minerals Vitamins Protein

Carbohydrates-more important than energy concentration

NDF: 36-40% Forage NDF: 25% NFC: Starch ~40% ~20

Compare dry cow diet with lactation diet Make Transition diet a moderate change

How much protein for prefresh cows?

Based on expected DMI
Heifers: 12 to 15% CP Cows: 10-13% CP

Major minerals w/o salts

Increase Mg to at least 0.3% (0.4%)
K/(Ca+Mg) <2

Excess protein may increase health problems Excess protein has not been shown to increase intake, milk, etc. post-calving

Feed low Ca ( 0.5 %) Maintain 2:1 Ca:P ratio Do NOT increase concentrations to adjust for low DMI last 5 days

Good Transition Diet

60:40 forage: concentrate
Forage is a blend of dry cow and lactating cow

Good Prefresh Diet

Proper balance of major minerals
Adequate Mg, Ca, and P Not excessive amounts of K

NEL: ~1.6 Mcal/kg CP: 14% NFC: 35-38% NDF: ~38-40% No supplemental fat

Adequate in trace minerals Consider elevating vitamins A and E


Fresh cows

Intake by fresh cows

Peak intake by cows
7 Weeks

Increase DMI as quickly as possible Maintain high DMI Everything else is secondary

DMI = 26.4 - (13.9e-0.06*Day)

Shah and Murphy, 2006

To get high DMI in early lactation

Feed highest quality forages Feed adequate forage (50-60%) Feed high CP (19%) Limit total fat (<5%) Good feeding management
frequent feeding fresh feed

Transition Groups
Dry Cows Dry Cows PreFr Lactating Cows Lactating Cows Fresh PreFr Fresh Lact Lact

Dry Cows Dry Cows

Question 1: Should you have a transition group?

Metabolic problems
milk fever, DA, ketosis

Question 2: Can I do it?

Facility available?
CLEAN, DRY, WELL-VENTILATED Dont put these cows in a cave Poor housing can increase mastitis, metritis Poor housing can reduce DM intake

Too much BC loss in early lactation Early or Late peaks (also low peak) Laminitis at about 100 days in milk

Labor available ?
Feed daily, push up 2-4 X


Why isnt my prefresh diet working?

I have lots of mastitis in fresh cows, should I feed more vitamin E to prefresh?

Grouping Priorities
Milk fever: Laminitis at 100 DIM: Ketosis: No major problems: All above assume facilities are adequate for groups