Transition cows

The three weeks before and the three weeks after calving is an important and vulnerable period for the dairy cow. Her metabolic needs increase dramatically, and how she copes with this high-energy transition period will impact how well she performs during the rest of the lactation. This is why having a good transition cow management program is crucial for a successful dairy operation.

Transition diseases can result in milk yield decreases of 5 to 10 pounds of milk per day at peak lactation, a considerable economic loss for the producer. Also, research has shown that there is a domino effect: when a cow suffers from one transition disease she is more likely to develop another. A cow with milk fever is eight times more likely to develop mastitis early in lactation. It has also been shown that the highest proportion of culling occurs in early lactation. This makes it clear that a well functioning transition cow program is important to ensure healthy cows and a profitable operation.

On this page you can find articles and links to other resources, to help you evaluate your cow transition program.

Transition cow

Transition cow metabolic problems

Written by: Mary Beth de Ondarza

Proper dry cow nutrition focuses in large part on reducing the incidence of metabolic problems around calving time. Metabolic problems are caused primarily by nutrition. They usually require treatment by a veterinarian or producer. One metabolic problem often leads to others and the final result is lost milk, poor reproduction, and maybe even a lost cow.

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Transition cow

Connecting transition cow physiology, behavior, and nutrition

Written by: Barry Bradford

In the past, efforts to improve the transition to lactation have focused largely on preventing infections and maximizing energy intake in transition cows, and these have generally been treated as independent issues. However, new models are emerging to explain the development of numerous transition disorders.

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Transition cow

Five steps to designing the ideal transition cow barn

Written by: Nigel B. Cook

Over the last few years, the Food Animal Production Medicine group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have used their clinical experiences troubleshooting fresh cow health problems on farms, research conducted by other groups, and their own research findings to formulate a plan for designing transition cow barns which results in optimal health and performance. In this article, Nigel Cook summarizes the planning process they have devised and used successfully to create these new facilities.

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Transition cow

Optimizing the transition cow management system on commercial dairy farms

Written by: Thomas R. Overton

Two group feeding systems are recommended during traditional length (60 days) dry periods to best meet the cow's nutritional needs Maximizing dry matter intake in the dry period is important; however, careful attention to various nutrients is required to prevent dramatic drops in intake just prior to calving. As shortened dry periods (30-45 days) become more common, single group feeding programs may be necessary.

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Transition cow

Behavioral needs of the transition cow and considerations for special needs facility design

Written by: Nigel B. Cook Kenneth Nordlund

Moving cows into new pens is stressful due to an increased level of confrontational behavior between cows. Facility design can either increase or reduce stress depending on cow comfort factors. Reducing stress in the dry period should reduce the risk of cows developing metabolic disorders

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Transition cow

Integration of metabolism and immunity in periparturient dairy cows

Written by: Matt R. Waldron Thomas R. Overton

Transition cows: Dramatically increased hepatic gluconeogenesis and peripheral lipolysis without excessive ketogenesis are critical for successful transition into lactation These same metabolic adaptations are important to maximize immune function of the periparturient cow. Current nutritional recommendations to support immunity are mostly based on knowledge of immunological concepts and are not "requirements" that were established to maximize immunity.

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Author

Monica Wadsworth

Monica Wadsworth
85 articles

Writer at Milkproduction.com

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Milkproduction.com

Milkproduction.com

Transition cow

Lameness in dry cows will likely mean ketosis in fresh cows

Written by: Milkproduction.com staff

Ketosis is often a problem in fresh cows. A recently published study shows a strong link to lameness in dry cows. In dairy cows, one problem often leads to another. The falling domino scenario is particularly the case around calving time. Over-conditioning can lead to ketosis that can lead to a displaced abomasum. And metabolic problems after calving can mean reduced reproductive performance later. The underlying causes that start the sequence of problems can be many and often several in combination.

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Transition cow

Dry cow and transition cow nutrition

Written by: Mary Beth de Ondarza

Fresh cows need to calve in with few metabolic problems. Fresh cows also need to eat aggressively as soon as possible and have few sub-clinical metabolic problems. Goals of the far-off dry period include maintaining body condition, maintaining protein and muscle reserves, rejuvenation of the rumen wall, and provision of needed minerals and vitamins. During the pre-fresh period, nutrient requirements increase while dry matter intake decreases. Ration nutrient concentration must increase. The mineral balance of the ration is critical. The rumen microbes and rumen papillae also need to be adjusted to higher levels of concentrates. Ration palatability is important at this time. A fresh cow’s energy needs usually exceed energy supply. Any steps taken to reduce the degree of sub-clinical ketosis will result in increased dry matter intake, increased milk production, and better reproduction. Special fresh cow groups help producers to target time, high quality forages, and feed additives to those cows who will respond the most. Fresh-cow feed additives include calcium propionate, choline, niacin, and yeast culture. Updated with information from the 2001 NRC

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Transition cow

Transition cows 2010

Written by: Marcia Endres

The transition period for the dairy cow is a key to a successful lactation and a successful dairy enterprise. In this article Marcia Endres from the University of Arizona summarizes what was said during the "Transition Cow: Biology and Management" conference in September 2010, answering the question: What else do we need to learn to reduce disease and mortality in early lactation even further?

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