Dairy Business Centre
August 2020 Newsletter 

In this months Newsletter: 

Down Cows – How much are they really costing you? 

“Down cow” is a term used for cows who are suffering from metabolic issues such as Milk Fever. Milk Fever or Hypocalcaemia, is a result of low blood calcium levels not meeting the requirements of the cow post calving.  This can lead to down cows, nervous trembling, and appetite suppression, all of which impacts the cows milk production for the remainder of the season. The high risk period for these issues occur between late pregnancy and early lactation AKA the transition phase.

How much is a down cow actually costing you? 

A DairyNZ study showed herds with as little as  2% down cows are:
5% Clinical
33% Subclinical
Costing a total of $80.00 per cow for the entire herd
The Canterbury average herd size  of 700 cows  will cost $56,000

During this transition period, the absorption of Calcium from the cows diet and bones is under extreme hormonal pressure. Calcium can also be limited by the effects of other minerals such as Phosphorous. Calcium has a tight relationship with Phosphorous and needs to supplemented appropriately  to to be utilised effectively by the cow.

As calcium is being drawn from the cows stores to prepare for lactation. During the colostrum production period, the cows calcium requirements increases by 400% per day! 

To meet the cows Calcium requirements absorption and re-absorption of Calcium to the bones must occur. Limiting the amount of available calcium to the cow during the immediate post calving phase will result in lowered blood Calcium concentration and then Milk Fever.

How do we find the balance? 

The transition period two weeks pre-calving can be a stressful time for the cow. With cows often coming back from winter grazing suffering from, low energy levels, lack of minerals, problems from sudden changes in diet and the need to maintain condition.

It is important to shift your Springers mineral status into a negative DCAD (Dietary Anion Cation Difference) state. This is done by providing sufficient anionic salts, balancing the diet with appropriate feed volumes, as feeds contain anions and cations minerals, eg, avoid feeding high volumes of pasture due to high Potassium levels making negative DCAD challenging to achieve. Remember during this phase we are preparing the cow not only for calving but for her lactating season ahead.

Once calved ensure to have Calcium readily available to meet the 400% increase in demand.

The easiest and best option to supplement Springers is through a lead feed supplementation such as DBC’s Get-Set-Cow, however, appropriate dusting, mineral mixes through the wagon can all achieve a negative DCAD if formulated correctly.

The transition phase 2-3 weeks pre-calving will determine the individual cows ability to perform for the rest of the season. It is important to give her the best start by getting her transition right. Thus saving time, energy and money.

Product of the Month! 


Get-Set-Cow is a Lead Feed supplementation pellet specifically formulated to help prepare pre-calving dairy cows for lactation. Containing anionic salts, Calcium, Magnesium, grain, protein, trace minerals and Rumensin for improved energy utilisation. All this in one pellet, which removes the need to dust minerals, removes the slow transitioning period of cows consuming grain and sets cows and staff up for an easier transition and smoother calving.

“I haven’t had a down cow in the past 3 seasons of using Get-Set-Cow… The cows have energy to calve, don’t go down and they have been hitting peak milk in 3-4weeks of coming into lactation.” – Dave, Canterbury Dairy Farmer

What’s Being Seen in the Field?

Calving is well underway with many farms starting a lot earlier this year compared to previous seasons. It has been assumed that this is due to high use of short gestation bulls. The progeny of these bulls are also showing to be short gestation cows, calving 1-4 weeks earlier than anticipated.

We are seeing many herds having issues with heifers having spontaneous breaks once calved and in the colostrum herd. Each case is different, but we have commonly seen this as a result of poor Phosphorous mineral supplementation for stock that have grazed on fodder beet. Young stock and older cows all need to be supplemented Phosphorous to replenish what is lost through lactation, pregnancy and growth.  The build up of these mineral stores needs to start with young stock.

Remember calves born from cows who have grazed on fodder beet are often born mineral deficient, so it is necessary to build up their mineral stores to prevent heath issues such as skeletal breaks later on in life.

Is your Phosphorous supplementation in the right form? Phosphorous needs to work at the correct 2:1 Calcium to Phosphorous ratio for P to be utilised by the cow. DCP is at a ratio of 18:25 which does not meet cow requirements.

The DBC reps are busy helping farmers with their transition minerals, lead feed and providing the best mineral options to suit your herd post calving. We have been helping farmers and calf rearers set up efficient and easy rearing systems using Maximize Calf Pellets. We are hands on in helping farmers, providing the best nutrition and advice for a successful season.

Things to check:

  • Springer Diet Is your springer transition feed plan and minerals organised? Are you getting down cows? Transition not going as smoothly as its could be? Get in touch to see how we can help.
  • Calves – Ensure every calf is receiving gold colostrum within the first 2-4hrs of life to kick start their immunity and set them up to grow fast and healthy.
  • Is your colostrom and milking herd feed and minerals organised?
  • Body Condition Score – cows should be coming home to the platform in a BCS of 5.
  • Stock that have been grazing high sugar feeds such as Fodder Beet may suffer from rapid weight loss when entering lactation. Beware of ketotic cows. Transition SLOWLY off fodder beet.
  • Young stock need minerals to grow. R1’s/R2’s are at critical growth stage of development. Heifers need to be hitting target weights and have appropriate mineral supplementation preparing them for mating this coming spring. The best form of mineral supplementation for heifers at grazing are Loose Lick options. This always ensures consistent mineral consumption when compared to mineral injectables and lick blocks.
  • Remember young stock need Phosphorous and Calcium to grow strong, healthy bones.
  • Calving is a busy and stressful time of year. Remember to take care of yourself and your staff during this time.

Results of Autumn Calves on Maximize! 

DBC aims to help farmers achieve their goals nutritionally by providing high quality products only using ingredients that the animal can actually utilise and absorb!

MAXIMIZE Calf Pellets are designed to meet the calf’s nutritional requirements for skeletal growth, lean muscle mass development, and healthy rumen formation.

When compared to the protein and amino acid composition of other calf feeds; DBC MAXIMIZE tested at 94% bio-availability, compared to DDG based calf feeds at 22%.

Barb fed MAXIMIZE calf pellets for the first time this autumn… and here’s what she had to say about it…

“The calves are loving it and they actually look really good for winter… not as rough in the coat as last years autumn calves and they are growing really well. I am very happy! “

At DBC we love seeing results likes Barb’s. Maximize is promoting happy, healthy, well grown calves.

Not all calf feeds are created equal, check the ingredients and the bio- availability of the feed to determine what calf feed is best for calf growth and development.

Click the link below to learn more about DBC calf pellets

Click here to learn more

Silo Guard
–  Healthier fermentation for better quality silage

Last harvest DBC had many farms chose to use Silo Guard over an inoculant. We have found stacks have no mould, no yeasts (no heating or steam). When tested Protein and DM increased, and ME was not lost.

Silo Guard, an inexpensive way to improve the overall quality of your silages!

Mould and Fungus are naturally present in forages. As soon as forage is cut, it begins to decompose. Extended drying times are perfect conditions for bacteria and fungus colonies to establish before being baled/stacked. This can cause heating and moulds to grow. Use Silo Guard to prevent bacteria and fungus colonisation.

Silo Guard – An oxygen scavenger, eliminating oxygen from bales and stacks allowing for faster and healthier fermentation. Healthier fermentation = better quality silage.

Market Update

The DBC arrow traffic light system is a good indication on the direction the market price is moving and when the time is right to buy.

If PKE plays a large part in your farming operation then we would recommend securing a position to get you through the first part of the season. It is hard to predict where the price is going to be moving as there is a lot of uncertainty with the dollar, global continuing effects from COVID19 and volume of supply from last season’s harvest.

On the grain front, barley supplies seem to be tighter than wheat. If you are a barley user then we would recommend securing your position, but if you are a wheat user then staying on a spot basis could be beneficial.

To learn more about these trends or to purchase commodities get in touch with your local DBC rep

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