Skip to content

Warning – Fat Cows!

23 August 2017

In general cows came through last winter in very good condition and, in general, have had (so far) an above average summer for grass growth.  (I am not sure this summer has been that good way down south due to the drought – but looking at your cows will soon tell you how good a time they have had!)

For many this means cows are currently likely to be carrying a lot more condition than normal, increasing the risk of future calving difficulties.  If your cows are too fat some points to consider would include –

Autumn Calving Herds

  • Delaying weaning. At this stage delaying weaning is not a sensible option as the cows will now be producing relatively little milk.  The best option is to wean them ASAP and put them onto starvation rations eg a bare hill (which will also give them plenty of exercise), a bare stubble or if they are really excessively fat house them on straw rations.  However remember they must be adequately supplemented with protein (preferably as urea to avoid giving them even more energy) and be adequately supplemented with mins/vits suitable for straw based rations.  The normal spring calving system of adding additional magnesium and soya, 1 – 2 weeks pre calving must also be included.
  • Where necessary treat cows to avoid summer mastitis. Discuss with your vet the possibility of using a teat sealant.

Spring Calving Herds

  • Delaying weaning in spring calvers is a sensible option as they will still be in mid lactation with higher milk yields and can be forced to milk for considerably longer.
  • Sliming cows takes a long time. A cow currently carrying large lumps of fat on over her tail head will heave to lose 0.5 kg per day, STARTING NOW, if she is to befit to calving easily in March!

Basil Lowman,

Sign up to the FAS newsletter

Receive updates on news, events and publications from Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service