26 Apr 2023
Body condition is decisive for the recovery of postpartum cows
Monitoring the body condition of cows during the final stages of gestation is essential for maintaining good health levels in these animals after calving. A study carried out at the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná (PUCPR) evaluated the aforementioned factors, establishing that non-obese cows recover better during postpartum.
Avoiding obesity in cows in the last third of gestation is essential for having healthy animals both during the final stretch of pregnancy and postpartum. Cows with excess body weight(obese) 60 days prior to calving, suffer from a significant weight loss during that period until the birth of the calf. Resulting in harmful effects for the animal’s overall health status. This was observed in a study carried out by Professor Ruã Darós from the Graduate Program in Animal Science (PPGCA) at the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná (PUCPR), in conjunction with canadian researchers.
“Losing body condition in the last two months of gestation is detrimental to the health of cows. Cows that are very obese in this period lose a lot of weight until calving, regardless of how much they eat per day. Therefore, trying to overfeed them during this period, is completely useless. Non-obese cows are able to maintain their ideal weight until the calving date, which explains their better postpartum health status. Thus, to have healthier cows in the postpartum period, we need to prevent them from becoming obese in the final third of gestation, “says Darós. Underlining the fact that the gestation period of cows ranges from 280 to 290 days.
The PUCPR researcher explains that changes in the cow’s body condition during the so-called dry period, which comprises the last two months of gestation are associated to the onset of diseases during the transition period. The latter period refers to the interval that includes the three weeks prior to calving to the three weeks after the animal gives birth. Therefore, it is essential to carefully look after the animal’s health during these specific moments.
“It is also worth noting that several studies indicate that, in dairy farms, between 50% and 70% of cows develop some type of disease in the first two weeks after calving,” warns Darós.
For the mentioned study, 100 cows from the University of Guelph’s experimental station, in Canada, were used. Researchers recorded data related to body condition (obesity) during the final phase of gestation, on the day of calving and after. The daily feed intake of each cow during the 60 days prior to the end of gestation was also recorded.
In addition to Darós, researchers Casey Haervekes and Trevor DeVries from the University of Guelph also participated in this study. The study was published in the was published in the Journal of Dairy Science under the title: “Body condition loss during the dry period: Insights from feeding behavior studies,” This publication, is the official scientific journal of the American Dairy Science Association.
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Source: This article was originally published in nutriNews Brasil as a press relations piece