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Posted: 01/03/2024
Row of dairy cows eating inside of a barn

Mastering the Transition: A Protocol to Prepare Fresh Cows for a Productive and Profitable Lactation

We often talk about calving and the health of the newborn – with plenty of emphasis on colostrum and first milk. But what about getting to that colostrum (and the consistent milk production that follows) from the dam's side of the coin? There's no switch to flip for this magical milk flow. But there is an efficient protocol that sets up fresh cows for both lactation success and long-term health.

Despite metabolic challenges and situational stress on the animal, the TechMix PREP305 protocol prepares cows for lactation by optimizing the preparedness for a new diet, environment, and routine to achieve peak performance. This protocol utilizes non-pharmaceutical products to provide nutritional guidance for a healthy and productive 305 days. We'll talk about how this is possible with the YMCP family of products.

The Transition Timeframe

Change is hard for humans, and the same can be said for dairy cows. The transition from pregnant to calving to lactating is an intense time full of challenges for the animal and producer alike. While this period is certainly important to each animal's individual health, it's also a matter of overall operational success: A cow's response to this transition can influence her future calving viability, overall health, and production output.

This 90-day transition runs 60 days prior to and 30 days following calving. Successful lactation requires a strong start, but in terms of production-boosting strategies, you don't want to "start fresh" (with a freshening cow). It's about the preparation, and that starts well before lactation during the dry period.

YMCP Supplement Graphic

Understanding a Fresh Cow's Metabolic Challenges

At the beginning of lactation, cows face physiologic challenges such as metabolic issues and infectious diseases that can negatively impact and derail the process altogether. In fact, most health problems dairy cows encounter occur around freshening thanks as a result of adapting to dietary changes and lactation needs. These may include:

  • mastitis
  • ketosis
  • retained placenta
  • milk fever (hypocalcemia)
  • metritis
  • displaced abomasum
To add to these challenges, the cow's energy needs more than double within the two days after she calves. These metabolic stressors add drama to an already tricky time as nutritional imbalances can lead to decreased immune function. But with the proper immunity-boosting supplements, producers can often protect their cows at a critical time.

Recommended Feeding for Peak Milk Production

As we mentioned above, most of a dairy cow's health problems tend to occur around freshening – and they center on adapting to the new diet and nutritional needs for lactation. So that diet becomes important in terms of prevention, however, it's even more key for peak milk production.

On average, the pre-partum to post-partum cows' dry matter intake needs jump from at least 22 pounds to at least 34 pounds per day. Most transition dairy cows don't consume enough calories to cover the calories that are burned during freshening. But the longer fresh animals spend on a negative energy balance, the greater their chances of suffering health difficulties. Keep close watch on dry matter intake during the transition to stay ahead of the energy balance.

To promote intake, make feed as accessible as possible and use high-quality forage. Fresh cows tend to need more bunk space than dry cows (30" vs. 24") to maximize this effort as well. There will be some differences in terms of each animal's adjustment to the new ration, with mature cows usually needing a quicker increase of dry matter intake compared to their first-lactation herd mates.

Improved Lactation Performance Data

Supplements are another great way to maximize intake and improve performance. Decades of data show how animals supplemented with the YMCP products have consistently improved production performance (across different regions and in differing conditions). A South Dakota dairy experienced +2 pound peak milk with YMCP given at freshening, and a dairy in Arizona saw +3 pounds.

Fresh Cow Examinations and Monitoring

More than 35% of all dairy cows have at least one clinical disease event (metabolic or infectious) during the first 90 days in milk. Ongoing monitoring and exams for fresh cows are a simple way to catch changes in performance and alert management of potential issues. Routine exams give you a consistent collection of records and data to analyze and react as early as possible to any drops in performance. Proactive disease identification can avoid outbreaks in the herd, too.

You should already be paying close attention to feed intake, so any inconsistencies there should be the first warning for other, possibly clinical issues. Consider completing these fresh cow exams two times each day for at least 10 days, with observation that covers both the front and back of the body. Consider checking the cow's temperature, assessing milk yield/udder fill, uterine discharge, manure, etc.

PREP305 Goes "Beyond the Accepted"

While many dairy owners have accepted the transition period issues as general "lactation process challenges,” TechMix believes there is a better way. PREP305 and the YMCP family of products provide critical probiotics and nutrients needed before, during, and after this key transition period. To start, these products create positive change in the animals' microbiome and ongoing immune function. Then during lactation, YMCP maximizes peak milk production and lactation performance; it even prepares cows for optimal reproductive potential in the future.

Supplementing with YMCP products has been shown to decrease treatment costs and increase revenue by helping fresh cows avoid metabolic issues, reduce replacement rates, and increase lactation. Research also shows cows receiving YMCP products had higher dry matter intake post-calving.

Fresh Cow YMCP Supplement
Fresh Cow YMCP Supplement:
This highly palatable formula features yeast, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and niacin to support the transition into lactation. Choose from capsules, paste, or powder.
YMCP Vitall Boluses for Cattle
YMCP Vitall Boluses for Cattle:
The only pressed bolus on the market containing live yeast, Vitall is a science-designed supplement that has demonstrated its ability to get cows back on feed faster, to produce more milk, and to boost blood calcium levels.
Fresh Cow YMCP NRG Drench
Fresh Cow YMCP NRG Drench:
For additional energy with lactation preparation, try this total multi-nutrient supplement with probiotics.

A Strategic and Sustainable Protocol

PREP305 isn't just effective, it's sustainable. Producers using this protocol have seen a reduced number of sick cows, a reduced number of early removals (sold or died), fewer treatments and antibiotics required, and in general cows with greater longevity and performance.

Help Fresh Cows Flourish with PREP305

Make this tough transition more productive and profitable with PREP305 and YMCP – the most nutrient-complete line of products for preparing your cows for lactation. From powder and paste to capsules and boluses, get it all at PBS Animal Health.

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