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A smooth transition to lactation is vital for dairy cows

The transition period of dairy cows has an enormous impact on milk production.

A successful transition requires 3 fundamental adaptations and these adaptations are not independent. The Selko programme for sustainable dairy farming offers a holistic approach to these 3 adaptations and deals with some of the challenges a cow has to deal with during transition to lactation.

The Selko programme for sustainable dairy farming will help to:

Reduce systemic immune activation of dairy cows

Systemic immune activation is a common problem during the transition to lactation. Recent evidence suggests that hindgut acidosis is often the cause. It results in “leaky gut” which has a negative impact on milk production4,5,6.

Reduce negative energy balance

Milk production in dairy cows increases faster than dry matter intake, resulting in negative energy balance34. The Selko programme will result in an increase in dry matter intake, reducing the risk for subclinical and clinical ketosis as well as various problems associated with negative energy balance in dairy cows.

Reduce the incidence of milk fever

One of the defensive responses to systemic immune activation can be a drop in blood calcium levels. Next to that, calcium demands of dairy cows go up rapidly during the period immediately before and after calving. This results in a drop in blood calcium levels, hypocalcaemia, leading to subclinical milk fever or clinical milk fever35.

Reduce the incidence of infectious diseases after calving

As a result of systemic immune activation and leaky gut, systemic inflammation processes occur which put pressure on the immune system4,5,6. Calcium plays a central role in the activation of cell-mediated immunity. Hypocalcemia will therefore have a negative impact on cell-mediated immunity after calving36. Negative energy balance, will result in massive lipolysis of fat reserves. This could lead to fatty liver and oxidative stress, resulting in inflammation and further reduction of immune function37. Immune suppression after calving increases the risk of:

  • Retained placenta, metritis and subsequent fertility problems
  • Udder infection and mastitis38

Carry out the F.A.R.M. check in fresh cows to identify problems with the transition to lactation early

Check the rectal temperature, the attitude, the rumen fill and the manure of fresh cows twice daily during the first 10 days after calving and identify dairy cows with transition problems early.

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Reduce the stress of dairy cows around calving with a stress free calving line

In a stress free calving line cows can rest on a straw bed from 2 weeks before calving onwards and be completely relaxed. After calving, they can stay in the same place for another week to ensure the transition to lactation is as smooth as possible.

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Calculate your profit!

See how sustainable dairy farming will result in more profitability of your farm

In contrast to common belief, it is very well possible to run a farm in a sustainable way while generating a healthy income.

Calculate your profit by influencing the 4 key indicators that help improve the Lifetime Daily Yield on your farm.

Download more research and documentation

You can access all of our documentation about Selko protocols, sustainable dairy farming and latest research insights about dairry cow transition management.

How to optimise dairy cow transition management

The transition to lactation can be optimised by managing the 3 core physiological adaptations a dairy cow undergoes in the period around calving correctly. Understanding the relation between these 3 adaptations and translating this into practical advice is the core to a successful transition to lactation.

Download our technical brochure "Managing the transition to lactation" and learn more on optimising transition management of dairy cows

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At Selko we are committed to put our scientific insights to work in order to achieve sustainable dairy farming for farmers who are looking to transform their milk production processes and meet 3 critical demands: reducing the carbon dairy footprint, ensuring animal welfare and create an optimal financial performance.

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