Metabolic disease is a major concern at this time of year. Apart from the obvious problems of downer cows and milk fever cases, there is the more hidden cost of sub-clinical hypocalcaemia and its impact on production, disease and infertility. The checklist below should help you decide whether or not you have sufficient preventative measures in place.

– Check DCAD (dietary cationic anionic difference) levels in pasture to be grazed by springers and freshly calved cows.
– Use DCAD results to estimate metabolic risk and calculate the required changes to pre-calving ration.
– Include magnesium chloride; other anionic salts; hay, straw or silage in pre-calving ration.
– Ensure cows near calving have settled onto a transition diet based on grass.
– Decide on a policy of calcium supplementation after calving.
– Decide on a product to use to help downers.
– Arrange the first trace element/mineral check on fresh calved cows.
– Make sure that you have sufficient supplies for treatment of clinical cases and trained staff in their use. If you have problems with any of the above, it would be a good idea to go and see your local vet.