Trace elements key to supporting dry cow transition

Dairy farmers are being encouraged to invest in trace element supplementation at drying off to support cows through the transition period.

James Brinicombe, technical director at B2B Nutrition, the trade arm of the Brinicombe group, says that the calving period is an incredibly stressful time for cows due to the heightened physiological demands and exponential rise in energy requirements.

“Post calving, dairy cows rapidly go into peak lactation. If their health isn’t supported through this period, cows could be at increased risk of metabolic disease and serious illness.

“Illness during this time comes at a significant cost to farm businesses. Not only are there the immediate costs associated with veterinary treatment, and loss of milk yield to consider, there is likely to be a longer-term impact with fertility typically also affected,” he says.

According to Mr Brinicombe, good micronutrition can play a key part in ensuring the cow achieves the right chemical and energy balance during the transition period, therefore supporting immunity, repair and recovery post-calving.

“Micronutrients often work together to support performance, but selenium in particular can help to keep cows free from infection and reduce the risk of retained placentas,” he says

“In addition to this, zinc, copper and manganese all help to support recovery post calving and should also be considered within transition diets.”

Mr Brinicombe suggests that micronutrition is a balancing act. “It can be difficult to maintain a good trace element and vitamin status, but supplementation via a slow-release bolus can simplify the process.

“For example, EnduraBol® boluses provide a sustained release of six vital trace elements and three vitamins for up to four months. This gives farmers peace of mind that their cows are receiving accurate micronutrition over a set period of time,” he says.

While micronutrition is sometimes overlooked, Mr Brinicombe stresses that every penny spent on pre-calving nutrition could see more money gained in performance in subsequent months. “Micronutrition really should be incorporated into all herds’ transition management plans,” he concludes.