Studies have shown the lower the dietary cation-anion difference (DCAD), the better the protection from milk fever for your whole herd.
That’s according to agri-food company Rivalea, whose Optimilk Pre-calving Pellets not only have a very low DCAD but have been formulated to make calving as smooth as possible.
The company urged farmers not to hesitate and to feed their herd the pellets 21 days prior to calving, as the use of DCAD was one of the biggest developments in dairy nutrition in the past 35 years.
Rivalea said the reason it had been so important was its effect on reducing the incidence of milk fever and other birth related diseases — and the flow-on effects this has to the overall health and increased production of the whole herd.
What is DCAD?
Simply put, food stuffs are made up of positive (+) and negative (-) ions and by measuring these, a score can be given for each food stuff.
For example, the average measurement of DCAD for cereal hay is +300meq/kg DM (milliequivalents per kg of dry matter), maize silage is +175meq/kg DM and rye-grass/clover pasture is +700meq/kg DM.
It is impossible to get a low DCAD diet using only forages.
How will Optimilk Pre-calving Pellets balance the pre-calving diet?
For a low DCAD diet to be effective in reducing milk fever every cow must get an adequate DCAD for a pre-calving diet — this is recommended to be between -100 and -150 meq/kg DM.
Higher than this, the risk of milk fever increases at an ever increasing rate. Lower than this and the risk continues to drop but not as rapidly.
A low DCAD diet means using anionic salts. Anionic salts do not have a pleasant taste; the more added, the less palatable it is to your cows.
Optimilk Pre-calving Pellets combine grain, minerals and flavour enhancers with the anionic salts to make the pellets more palatable.
To help with uptake of a new diet:
Consider mixing pellets with familiar feed stuffs for the first two feeds and then gradually reduce the amount.
Consider restricting other palatable feed sources, like silage and pasture. Once pellets are consumed, offer other feed sources. Do not restrict daily intake.
Cows are adverse to any change. Persevere for two to three days. .
To help with uniform consumption:
If possible, feed in the dairy to ensure daily requirements are met.
Ensure enough trough space is available to prevent gorging or limitation to some animals.