Managing the change to feed pads

By Sophie Baldwin

A Murray Dairy workshop focusing on transitioning cows to a temporary feed area or sacrifice paddock over summer was held at the dairy farm of Greg and Karen Rowlands at Katunga last week.

Guest speakers covered topics including:

  • Regulations around temporary feed areas and sacrifice paddocks.
  • Grants to support transition.
  • Preventing and managing animal health issues, including combating heat stress.
  • Meeting stock water needs.
  • Minimising feed wastage and nutritional consideration.

While best practice was always covered, guest speakers acknowledged it wasn't always practical or possible.

Dairy Australia animal health and fertility expert Stephanie Bullen spoke about the importance of keeping respiratory health and teat contamination under control in a feedlot environment.

She said concentrated cow numbers, high humidity and stress from jostling for spots on a feed pad could create the perfect environment for pneumonia to thrive.

Vaccinations could offer protection rates of 80 per cent but, if a cow is stressed at the time of treatment, success could be reduced.

“The best time to vaccinate is late in lactation or at dry-off, not between the high stress pointsof calving and joining,” Dr Bullen said.

She said if a pneumonia outbreak did occur, stock should be taken off the pad and spread out into a paddock to help reduce risk.

She also recommended using no more than three vaccines at a time.

When it came to teat health, she said it was important to make sure dirty teats were washed and thoroughly dried before cups go on.

“Teat spray only offers protection for 20 minutes so try and keep your cow upright and standing for at least two hours after milking if possible to ensure adequate teat closure to reduce contamination.”