Dairy cows suffer from stress! Peak times of stress are at calving and drying off although poor diets can cause stress anytime especially in cows at peak yields. 75% of an animal's immunity is derived from its digestive tract. Stress is known to reduce the immune function of neutrophiles (these are cells that engulf and digest invading pathogens in the udder for example). If this stress corresponds with a decline in the immune system associated with calving, the animal is more susceptible to disease.

The immune system depends on proper nutrition. Key nutrients in helping to improve the immune system are antioxidants such as, Vitamin E and selenium. Other nutrients strengthening the immune system are cobalt, copper and Vitamin A.

Recent research has shown that after calving, cleansings are often retained if the cow has a poor immune system, linked to a shortage of Vitamin E or Selenium. After calving, a healthy cow will recognise the cleansing as a foreign body and expel it. If the immune system is impaired the cleansing is often retained, thus resulting in a 'dirty cow'.

GP FEEDS have been making use of this type of information over the last two years and have developed products specifically to enhance immunity in the dry cow: For example EXCEL DRY COW ROLLS, provide 100,000 iu of Vitamin A per day compared to 40,000 iu in many competitors products. Diets post calving also need adequate supplementation. Our diet approach has reduced the stress levels in many of our clients' herds as well as improving mineral and vitamin supplementation. This has helped to reduce mastitis, lameness and improved fertility in many client herds.

Cows work very hard for us and we owe it to them to give them every chance to resist disease and live long productive lives. Ring GP Feeds and talk to us about how we can improve your cows' health.