Dry cows on Dairylink Ireland farms are managed with a view to having them calve down at a condition score 2.75 to 3.0.

Hitting this desired range puts them in a position to maximise feed intake and milk production post-calving.

Measures are also taken by farmers to minimise incidences of transition cow disorders, such as milk fever, which can diminish milk yield.

For example, the dietary cation anion balance (DCAB) content of forages being fed to dry cows was reviewed across Dairylink farms last autumn.

Lower milk fever risk

Cows fed diets with a low DCAB value are at a lower risk of contracting milk fever.

Some farmers, such as Owen and James Martin from Armagh, produced forage with a low DCAB value (28 meq/kg DM).

Other farmers, such as John Oliver in Limavady, found that while the DCAB value of his dry cow forage was higher (248 meq/kg DM), he was able to formulate a diet to reduce the DCAB value of his dry cow diets.

To date, all project farmers have reported only a few incidences of milk fever among their herds this year.

Read more in this week's Irish Farmers Journal and online here.