Milking 250 cows at Marton, Macclesfield, Barry Worth and family had been experiencing a number of issues with dry cow management for some time, including struggling with retained cleansings, ‘twisted stomachs’, milk fever cases and condition loss in the all year round calving herd.
“No matter what we did nothing seemed to change things for the better,” explains Mr Worth.
“At the worst point I’d say about 25% of cows were failing to calve without a transition issue, including some with milk fever. This was obviously having a big impact on both herd productivity and profitability. Not only was it adding to vet costs, but it also meant cows were taking longer to get back in calf and it was hitting yields too.”
Mr Worth says that milk fever was an underlying problem in the herd and adding to concerns over dry cow management. “We had a bit of a problem with this and there’s no doubt our move to using CalFix, a dietetic feed to reduce the risk of milk fever, has helped overcome it.
“In May alone we calved more than 40 cows without problems and we’ve not used a single bottle of calcium in that time either, whereas before we would have been giving about 25% of cows a bottle of calcium just to be on the safe side.”
Feeding has been a straightforward affair for Mr Worth over winter, with 3kg/head of dry cow nuts containing CalFix sprinkled on top of the cows’ usual ration once a day. “For the summer calvers we’re grazing them on a fairly tight paddock and offering them ad lib straw at the same time. They then have 3kg/head of the CalFix-containing dry cow feed in a trough once a day and they eat it up well.
“The important thing we’ve found is to ensure we pull out the closer to calving dry cows and manage them separately for at least three weeks pre-calving. They need to be on CalFix for that period to get the maximum benefit from it.
“It's been pretty amazing just how well it’s cleared up the issues we were suffering from and while it is an added cost on the feed side of things, it’s certainly cheaper than the costs of a lost cow or the delay to breeding we were seeing.
“It’s also taken a lot of worry out of the day to day routine which is invaluable, particularly with milk prices where they are.”
Mr Worth adds that importantly the cows have looked well all the time he’s been feeding CalFix. “It’s certainly helped keep them in good order and that goes a long way to easier calvings and fewer post-calving issues such as milk fever.”