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The Importance of Maintaining the Suitable Body Condition of Dairy Cows

Posted on: November 25, 2019, by Victoria

1. Time and method of scoring dairy cow's body condition
To grasp the suitable condition of dairy cows, the body condition of dairy cows should be graded in different periods, and effective methods should be adopted to timely adjust the unsuitable condition of dairy cows. The scoring time of dairy cow's body condition was carried out at calving time, postpartum examination, mating period, pregnancy examination, lactation period and dry milk period.

In addition to eye observation, hand touch is the most important way to assess body condition. The score is determined by the fat coverage of certain specific parts of the body surface of dairy cows. Dairy cows are scored on a five-point system, which is commonly used in the world.

The criterion of one point is that the short ribs of each cow can be distinguished by hand touch. The outline is clear and there is almost no fat cover. The prominence of the lumbar horn, tail root, and chest ribs can be seen clearly.

The 2-point criterion is that each short rib can be distinguished by hand touch, but its end is not as sharp as the 1-point condition. There is some fat covering around the tail root of the cow, and the waist horn and rib are not obvious.

The 3-point criterion is that the short ribs can be felt only by pressing down hard, and the fat deposits on both sides of the tail root increase.

The 4-point criterion is that the short ribs can't be touched even under pressure. The fat around the tail root is soft and slightly circular. There is more fat deposited in the ribs and the fat content in the bovine body increases.

The 5-point criterion is that the bovine body is cylindrical, without obvious skeleton structure and edges, short ribs are surrounded by a lot of fat, tail root and haunch are surrounded by fat, and the bovine body is overweight and unable to exercise normally.

If the body condition is between the two levels, it can be rated as half, for example, if the body condition is between 3 and 4, it can be rated as 3.5.

Dairy Cows
Dairy Cows

2. Ideal body condition at different lactation stages
It is very important to keep the ideal body condition of dairy cows in the lactation stage to improve their milk production. The standard of body condition of dairy cows in different lactation stages is different.

The body condition of dairy cows during calving should be 3-3.5. After 4 weeks of lactation, the body weight of dairy cows begins to decrease and the score drops to 2.5-3. For high-yielding cows, the body condition even drops to 2. At this time, the main reason for the rapid decline is the dietary nutrient concentration and feeding method, as well as the intake of dairy cows. It may also be the health problem of dairy cows. The optimum body condition of dairy cows in the early lactation stage is 3. If the body condition of non-high-yielding cows drops to 2 at this time, the intake and feeding method of dairy cows should be checked. If the body condition of dairy cows is above 3, but the milk yield is low, it depends on the nutrient concentration of diet, intake and water intake. The optimum body condition at the middle lactation stage is 3 points. The purpose of feeding at this time is to increase fat deposition and improve the body condition of dairy cows. At this time, a slightly higher energy level should be provided.

If the body condition is above 3.5 points, it is too obese. At this time, it is necessary to reduce the energy concentration of the feed and check the protein level in the diet. If the body condition is less than 2 points, but the normal milk production may be due to the lower energy level in the diet, especially in the early lactation period, energy deficiency will lead to a significant decline in the body condition of dairy cows at this time. The normal post-lactation condition is 3.5 because at this time the milk production decreases and the fat deposition increases. It is necessary to store energy for the next lactation period. Therefore, it is necessary to provide energy reasonably on the premise of avoiding over fattening.

Dairy Cows
Dairy Cows

3. Feeding and management methods to maintain body condition during lactation
The goal of dairy cows feeding and management at this stage is to avoid negative nutritional balance in early lactation, maximize the intake of dairy cows, to effectively avoid negative energy balance so that dairy cows can maintain a suitable condition to ensure high Milk Fat Rate. At this time, we should pay attention to excluding the disease factor when the cow is in a low physical condition. If the cow's health problems will inevitably affect the cow's feed intake, thereby affecting the cow's physical condition and milk production. First, we should consider whether cows have hoof disease to ensure the health of dairy cows, and then study the feeding and management methods of dairy cows. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen the feeding management of lactating dairy cows to adjust and control the suitable condition of dairy cows, to improve the milk production and production performance of lactating dairy cows. In the lactation period, to maximize the intake of dairy cows, in the case of poor appetite and low intake of dairy cows, the energy concentration of feed can be adjusted to ensure that dairy cows absorb sufficient energy. Besides, we should adjust the level of rumen protein in the diet, and provide enough crude fiber to prevent indigestion and poor appetite of dairy cows.

4. Feeding and management methods for maintaining body condition during the dry  period
The dry period is an indispensable part of dairy cow production. Its main purpose is to restore cow's physique and promote the recovery of cow's mammary gland tissue and physiological function. The objective of this stage is to improve and maintain the suitable fattening condition of dairy cows. The standard of feeding is 3-3.5 points for dairy cows during calving. If excessive concentrate is fed during the dry period to make the body condition reach 4-5 points, it will affect the milk production performance in the next lactation period, and the quality of milk will also decline. Therefore, appropriate nutrition should be provided during the dry period to adjust the body condition to the appropriate score. In addition to dietary nutrition and intake will affect the body condition of dairy cows during the dry periods, disease factors will also affect the body condition of dairy cows. To maintain the suitable body condition of dairy cows during the dry period, besides scientific feeding, prevention of various diseases should be done to improve the health of dairy cows, to ensure the health of dairy cows, so that the dairy cow's body condition can be maintained at the appropriate standard.

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