One third of the cows is not making it in their barns. Why? Because of diseases, and one in particular. Subclinical rumen acidosis is barely visible, but will weaken you cows, leading to other diseases. In the end, this is cutting cow lives short. If we want to do something about this, we need to broaden our knowledge of feed. There’s plenty of information about feed quality available, but more knowledge of housing and management with regard to feeding is much needed.
In the titel of this blog we specifically mention advisors. That doesn't mean farmers can lie back and relax. It's a farmer's reponsibility to keep their cows healhty. So this is as much of an appeal to farmers as it is to advisors. We just want to challenge the advisors to do better as well, because we believe they can have a crucial role in changing things.
By the time you catch it (or not), the other trouble has already started: mastitis, lameness, low fertility..
One third of the cows is not making it. ‘Not making it’, is saying that the average productive lifetime for cows is below 3 lactations, where it can be 5 lactations. Did you know 20% of lactating heifers doesn’t make the second lactation? When we’re looking at why cows don’t go the distance, we’re quickly faced with disease numbers:
o 50% bloody soles after calving
o 50% subclinical milk fever
o 30% mastitis or much more
o 20% ketosis
o x % subclinical rumen acidosis
Shocking numbers and there’s plenty to say about each disease individually. But let’s look at one disease in particular: rumen acidosis. This disease is hard to recognize for farmers, but will seriously weaken the cow. It starts with nausea and by the time you catch it (or not), the other trouble has already started: mastitis, lameness, low fertility rates and so on. This is what in the end is keeping cows from happily and healthy making it to five lactations.
Rumen acidosis is the silent killer of our cows.
So if you can hardly catch it in time, it is even more crucial to prevent it. For prevention farmers need a good understanding of how the rumen functions and an excellent feeding program. A major issue is feed quality and luckily, most farmers have a good feed advisor for this. What the feed advisor often doesn’t tell the farmer is how management and housing effect feed intake. Without broadening knowledge about feeding to these areas as well, rumen acidosis just will keep happening.
Like we said, it is a farmer'r responsibility to keep their cows healthy. They need to actively search for broader knowledge on feeding. However, we believe that advisors have an important role in providing this information more easily. We like to challenge them to do a better job.
What the feed advisor often doesn't tell you, is how management and housing effect feed intake
Farm advisors that can advise on a broader scope, will probably do a lot better than their competitors. They can actually help farmers solve problems that are of key importance to them. This makes them highly valuable. Also, instead of just advising farmer to just buy their product, they will also be giving farmers advice on things they don’t earn a penny from. This will make them a more trustworthy partner for their clients. Expending their knowledge is in the best interest of the advisors as well.
In summary, rumen acidosis is a very serious disease that has enormous effects on both the cow’s as the farmer’s life. Good farmers will actively search for new insights and improvement opportunities in the housing and management department. Good advisors, that are keen on giving quality advice and creating a sustainable relationship with their clients by constantly being of added value, face the challenge to give advice on a broader scope and involve all factors needed for a good feeding program. This will not only benefit cows and farmers, but also the farm advisor. Together, we can do a better job.
About Feeding Signals
We just developed a new video learning 'Feeding Signals'. It focuses on housing and management with regards to feeding and it provides solutions that have proven themselves in practice. The video learning is for both farmers and feed advisors, vets, fertility specialists and barn designers. Feeding Signals is also available as a day training.