Animal care plays an important part in the lifespan of dairy cattle. By optimising the care for dairy cattle, their immune systems improve. This increased resilience prevents infections from occurring. It therefore prevents cows from having to leave the farm prematurely.
This pillar of the HyCare method focuses on two crucial aspects in this respect. The care during the transition phase and hoof care. During the transition phase, it is critically important to individually support each cow. Furthermore, the claws of all cows are in need of structural care.
Optimal care during the transition phase
The transition phase in dairy cattle is a crucial phase, as many diseases occur in this specific phase. Normally, this phase lasts from three weeks pre-calving to seven weeks post-calving. In this time, cows are at risk of having their immune systems impaired due to a negative energy balance. Consequently, the optimal care for the primary organs (rumen and liver) is important. By caring for the rumen and liver they remain healthy and the cow does not have to spend precious energy on healing them.
Supporting dairy cattle during the transition phase is done with specific vitamins and minerals. These are administered to the animals with food supplements often added to the feed. However, this method has proven to be ineffective, as unhealthy cows limit their feed intake and therefore also eat fewer supplements. This prevents cows from receiving sufficient vitamins and minerals to maintain healthy organs.
Individually administering these supplements is a solution for this problem. There are different ways to accomplish this and the ideal method for doing so is different for every dairy farm.
Optimised hoof care
Healthy claws are the foundation for a proper intake of water and feed of your dairy herd. Claw problems are a major negative influence on the life expectancy of cows. One of the leading causes for premature departures of cows from farms is found in claw problems. A cow experiencing such claw problems often enters into a negative energy balance which lowers their water and feed intake. This might also lead to an inability to gestate, which is another cause of premature departures of dairy cattle.
Hoof care consists of two elements. First, hoofs must be trimmed consistently and regularly. Second is cleaning and disinfecting the claws. A solution often used by dairy farmers to accomplish this is a claw bath, which gets rid of all harmful bacteria. These claw baths however often cause stress in dairy cattle, as the disinfectants required for optimal hoof care feels uncomfortable. Another solution is to place claw mats after the milking robot. These claw mats have the same effect as claw baths, but have a number of benefits in comparison.
- Consistent hoof care
- Does not cause stress in dairy cattle
- Improved claw health leads to better results
Optimal care in relation to the other HyCare pillars
Optimal care is important to achieve the HyCare objectives for dairy cattle. While this care contributes, it does not suffice as a stand-alone measure for prolonging the lifespan of your animals. Hygiene levels must be increased as well, which means: a germ-free environment in the areas where cows need it the most. Together with a pest-free stable, healthy drinking water and pore-free surfaces, these results can be achieved.
What solutions does the HyCare method bring regarding “Optimal care” for dairy cattle?
Pathogens cannot settle if all pores in surfaces are sealed
Clean drinking water
Clean and tasty drinking water is indispensable for keeping your animals healthy
Germ-free living environment
A thorough cleaning and disinfection process creates a germ-free living environment
Optimal care for animals enables them to perform optimally
Prevent pathogens from being introduced and spreading in your stable by stopping pest
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