Making sure your cows are in good body condition is a simple way to boost your mating results. Now is the time to body condition score your cows and implement some strategies to help you reach those mating targets! Although body condition score at calving is very important for good reproduction outcomes, it is also equally important to prevent too much loss of condition between calving and mating. With the majority of cows already calved and through the negative energy cycle associated with calving, now is your last chance to improve on condition before mating starts. So it is important to be proactive and make the most of this opportunity to reap the benefits.
What are the benefits?
- Fatter cows cycle earlier and have higher conception rates.
- Fewer reproduction interventions required (e.g. CIDR program)
- 6 week in-calf rate is about 8-11% higher in cows at BCS 4.5 at PSM compared with cows at BCS 3.0.
- 6 week in-calf rate is about 14% higher in heifers at BCS 5 at PSM compared with heifer at BCS 3.5.
What can you do now?
2. Make a plan with your vet around how to optimise cow body condition. This could involve:
- Splitting the cows into at 2 or more herds based on body condition
- Increasing energy input to the lighter cows by changing what/how they are currently being fed (there are many ways to go about this).
- Decrease energy output. Once a day milking for the lightest cows or shorter walks to the shed.
Remember, body condition of cows is important all year round. Maintaining good condition throughout the season gives great returns in terms of better production, better reproduction, less mastitis and uterine infections, fewer down cows, more replacement heifers (!) and even has generational effects. A heifer born to a cow who hits her body condition targets will in turn produce more milk and have better reproduction outcomes!