With nutritional requirements skyrocketing and scarce quality feed sources available, it is a tough time to be a cow-calf producer.
If producers look through their herds, they will notice it is generally their heavily pregnant cows that are doing it tougher.
Northern Tablelands Local Land Services district vet, Lisa Martin, Tenterfield, said during late pregnancy and throughout lactation, an animal requires up to 50 per cent more than a dry cow and those in cold weather take in up to 20pc more feed just to keep warm.
“During pregnancy the calf obviously gets bigger in size and space decreases. Cows in later pregnancy need a more concentrated, high quality feed,” Dr Martin said.
“Low quality roughage reduces the ability of the cow to fit in enough feed to get the energy required.”
Metabolic disease, such as pregnancy toxaemia and hypocalcaemia, need to be considered with cows with a body condition score (BCS) of one or two often affected.
“Symptoms vary from cows staggering or becoming aggressive to some going down and not being able to get up,” she said.
"Those affected need to be treated as soon as possible to increase the likelihood they will recover.
“Producers need to consider animal welfare of stock that have gone down, treatment hasn’t been successful, and improvement is unlikely. Stock should not be left to die, options for euthanasia are available.”
It is advised that a dry lick of calcium, salt and Causmag be made available to stock through this time.
- Working with landholders to manage through drought
- Minerals essential for ewe survival during lambing
- Maintaining growth in calves can be helped with the use of pain relief at marking
During calving, calcium is also required for muscle contractions to push the calf out.
“Deficiencies in calcium and energy may result in a slow or protracted calving. Cows may be unable to deliver a calf as they run out of calcium and energy,” she said.
“This may cause an increase in assisted calvings and/or calf deaths. Therefore people are having to check their cattle more often.”
Producers need to remember if they see cows down or are reporting problems there is probably more stock being affected which aren’t showing clinical signs.
It is important to identify the problem and find solutions where possible.
If there are older, weaker, lower BCS animals in the mob, if possible, they should be separated to get more access to feed. An eye should be kept on older cows at this time.
Where available, shelter should be provided to cows during or post calving to help reduce the impact of the cold and therefore reduce energy requirements for warmth.
“Fortified molasses mixes, mixed well with cotton seed or urea, may provide an energy and protein boost,” Dr Martin said.