Avoiding down cows at the works

When it comes time to send your cull cows to the works, it is important to prepare your girls properly to ensure they stay as healthy as possible on the journey and to avoid them going down upon arrival, or while waiting in lairage.  

Despite everyone's efforts to ensure animals don’t have to wait too long at the works, cows can end up waiting in lairage for 12-24 hours, or sometimes even more. While there will always be water available for them, there won’t be much else. So, if they have already been on a very long journey, it could be that some cows end up being off feed for a long time. 

Essential trace elements: 

It is ESSENTIAL that cows are given calcium prior to travel. This is because they are still in lactation mode and they rapidly deplete the calcium reserves in their blood while off feed.   

Dry cows can also suffer from low levels of blood calcium, so all cows should be properly prepared, regardless of lactation status! 

MPI recommends the following to ensure your dairy cows don’t go down from low trace element levels: 

Credit: MPI

Credit: MPI

  • Stand dairy cows off pasture for 4-12 hours before transport, BUT, provide roughage/dry feed and water until loading on the truck. 

  • You can then add calcium and magnesium to the hay/baleage/palm kernel. 

  • Add 100 grams of lime flour per cow to feed during stand off. This provides each cow with 35g of calcium. Any alternative supplement used must contain the equivalent amount of calcium.   

  • Also give 60g of Causmag to cover the magnesium requirements. 

Any cows that are still milking also need to be milked very shortly before they are picked up so that udders don’t blow up.   

Are they fit for transport?   

To avoid any fines and ensure animal welfare, it is also important to check that any cull cows are fit for transport. MPI’s Fit for Transport app has some great information and a breakdown of what animals are considered fit to go onto a truck. 


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