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The significance of measuring physique situation in nursing cows

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The significance of measuring physique situation in nursing cows

April 13, 2022

New analysis has discovered that avoiding weight problems, extreme thinness or important adjustments within the standing of pregnant nursing cows can keep away from using pointless winter forage and result in the expansion of more healthy and quicker calves.

Physique situation evaluation is a speedy methodology for assessing livestock fats protection, and is scored in cattle on a scale from 1 (mild) to five (overweight).

The advisable purpose is for cows born in spring to be at about 3 levels in early to mid-gestation and calves at 2.5 levels.

Nonetheless, researchers from Scotland Rural Faculty (SRUC) have discovered that there’s presently important variation inside and between Scottish beef farms within the administration of physique situation in pregnant suckling cows.

Within the first research to look at the impact of a cow’s physique situation and its change throughout being pregnant on the event of calves, they recorded 2,366 cows from 21 farms – the bulk in Scotland and a few from northern England.

A case of cows from a gaggle of breeds was recorded throughout mid-gestation as they have been transferred from grazing to winter housing, and once more in late gestation in early spring.

The researchers then collected knowledge on the calving occasion – together with calf measurement, vitality and wish for help, and examined the calf’s progress price at three completely different levels between calving and slaughter, earlier than evaluating the diploma of carcass of the calf.


This data was used to create the biggest knowledge set ever on the situation of a cow’s cow.

The analysis discovered that solely 41 p.c of the cows have been inside +/- 0.5 situation factors of the advisable targets, with cows exhibiting excessive variability in gaining and dropping standing throughout being pregnant.

Cows that misplaced greater than 0.5 situation factors between mid and late gestation had calves that have been 5 p.c smaller at delivery than cows that stayed inside 0.5 factors, and 13 p.c smaller than cows that gained greater than 0.5 factors.

Cows that have been skinny in late being pregnant had 7 p.c much less strong calves at delivery than calves of different cows.

In the meantime, calf weight acquire at weaning was about 1.5 p.c higher if the mom stayed inside the 0.5 level vary between mid and late being pregnant than within the gained or misplaced situation.

The analysis reveals that there’s important scope for carefully managing physique situation in pregnant nursing cows, which results in extra energetic progress and quicker progress of calves for a number of months after parturition.

Whereas some effort is required to encourage adoption of the well-established methodology of case grading, it requires minimal time, no extra gear, and little coaching and will be carried out throughout routine dealing with.

Simon Turner, senior researcher in SRUC’s Division of Animal Science and Veterinary Medication, mentioned: “The findings counsel that weight problems throughout the early levels of being pregnant is probably dangerous, notably if adopted by important lack of the situation because the being pregnant progresses.

“There’s lots of scope for higher physique situation administration. A calf’s viability and progress is improved by a reasonable situation rating and huge fluctuations in situation over time are averted.”