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The influence of diet before and after calving on the food intake, production and health of primiparous cows, with special reference to sole haemorrhages

  • G. Olsson (a1), C. Bergsten (a2) and H. Wiktorsson (a1)

Abstract

Sixty-five primiparous cows were used in two experiments to study the effects of feeding high or low levels of concentrate during the last 2 to 3 weeks before calving on performance in early lactation. During early lactation (until 12 or 16 weeks after calving) all the 23 cows in experiment 1 were given the same diet. In experiment 2, the 42 cows were given diets with a ratio of concentrate/forage of either 60:40 or 40: 60, each providing the same energy level.

The food intake of almost all the cows decreased in the few days before calving but the decrease was less pronounced among those on the low concentrate level before calving. The average daily food intake during the calving week gave a metabolizable energy intake about 30 MJ higher on the high compared with the low feeding level. The level of feeding before calving had no effect on the cows' food intake after calving, or on their milk yield, health and fertility, or on scores for udder oedema and sole haemorrhages. The high level offeeding before calving was associated with significantly higher concentrations of insulin and lower concentrations of free fatty acids in the calving week of lactation but the level offeeding either before or after calving had no effect on these concentrations in the 8th week of lactation. The feeding of a high ratio of concentrate/forage after calving was associated with a significantly lower milk fat content. It can be concluded that the concentrate/forage ratio at calving does not seem to have any significance for the performance after calving.

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