Lactating cows undergo significant physiological changes after calving, transitioning from pregnancy to milk production. Ensuring their health and well-being during this critical period is paramount for both the cow’s productivity and the health of her calf. Here are a few points that address the elements of maintaining health and production after calving:

  •  Nutritional Management: Adequate nutrition is the cornerstone of post-calving care for lactating cows. They require a diet rich in energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals to support milk production and sustain their own body condition. High-quality forage and balanced concentrate feed should be provided to meet their nutritional requirements.
  • Hydration: Access to clean and fresh water is vital for lactating cows to stay hydrated, support milk production, and maintain overall health. Their increased water needs due to milk production make continuous access to water a necessity.
  • Mineral Supplementation: Deficiencies in minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium can lead to metabolic disorders like milk fever. Providing mineral supplements formulated for lactating cows helps prevent deficiencies and supports overall health.
  •  Parasite Control: Parasites can impact cattle health and productivity. Regular deworming and parasite control measures are necessary to increase and maintain lasting health and production.

Deficiencies that a lactating cow might experience include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, energy, and protein. These deficiencies can impact milk production, body condition, and overall health if not addressed promptly.

As for the calf, its demand for nutrients and energy gradually decreases as it matures and starts consuming solid feed. Typically, the calf’s reliance on the cow’s milk diminishes as it begins consuming forage and concentrates. This transition occurs gradually over several weeks to months, depending on the calf’s growth rate and feeding practices. By around 3-4 months of age, most calves are fully weaned and rely primarily on solid feed for their nutritional needs, although they may still nurse occasionally for comfort.

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By:  Sheldon Wellborn – sheldon@ranchconnection.com