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2 Oct 2020 - Management advice on udder health

Negative energy balance

Avoiding negative energy balance is one of the focus areas in improving udder health. The first 30 days after calving is the time where you need to pay extra attention to feeding routines. This is due to the fact that 70% of treatments for mastitis take place in this period. That is the time when most cows experience negative energy balance.

During early lactation, dry matter intake is low, while nutrient demand is high - that leads to cows being in negative energy balance.

Evaluate cow’s body condition or observe the development of fat and protein % in milk the first months after calving. Major reductions in components going below 3.0% is a clear indication that the animal has issues with negative energy balance.

Feed intake in the first month after calving is 50-80% of the optimum level. That is why it is crucial to ensure that cows get sufficient amount of minerals and vitamins. Several vitamins and minerals are especially important for immune function, particularly vitamins A and E, zinc (Zn), selenium (Se) and copper (Cu).

Cows in early lactations are ranked lowest in the herd and they come less often to feeding place. That takes place during the times when it is less busy. It is important to ensure sufficient amount of feed and 2-5% of feed left before the next feeding.

Avoid overcrowding of fresh cows as it restricts intake of certain cows, putting them at greater risk of mastitis.