Transition cow management

The modern dairy cow undergoes significant metabolic challenges in the ‘transition’ period, defined as the four weeks before and after calving.

In adult dairy cattle, 80% of disease costs occur in the first four weeks after calving. An integrated approach to transition cow management (TCM) can have significant benefits in reducing occurrences of metabolic diseases post calving. Investing in a transition feeding program ($20–60 per cow) can return up to $200 per cow.

Download the 'Transition cow management' fact sheet.

Key messages

  • Test transition cow forage to establish mineral status of the forage, and reduce the risk of milk fever by offering a diet with a negative DCAD in the 3 weeks pre-calving
  • Pre calving: target calcium in diet = 0.4–0-65% DM; post calving: target calcium in diet = 0.8–1.2% DM
  • Maintain magnesium content of 0.45% DM in the 3 weeks pre-calving
  • Use a highly digestible forage in the post-calving diet to encourage greater DMI.