Dairy Cow Body Condition Score

Our Holstein dairy cow, Sadie, has been looking rather poor after delivering her first calf. The calf, on the other hand, looks great! She is growing and gaining weight!
Sadie, our Holstein Dairy Cow

Sadie is with our other beef cows. She is out on good pasture that is growing and she is busy most of the day eating. She has a good appetite and takes excellent care of her calf. She is also our first Holstein cow. Holsteins are known for their high production of milk. There are many different dairy cows in the U.S. If you would like to learn more about the different breeds of dairy cows click on the link. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/history_of_dairy_cow_breeds_holstein

As I said, we are worried about Sadie's body condition. Body condition, or the amount of flesh that is on the animal, is important because it determines how well the animal will perform. In cows a good body condition means more milk production and a heavier weaned calves. Also a good body condition determines how quickly a cow can be bred back. 

So what part of the cow do we look at to determine its body condition? We look at the tail head and the loin. What is the tail head? What is the loin? 
Well here is an example of a tail head:
Dairy Cow Tail Head

Here is an example of a loin:

We took some pictures of Sadie and went online to see how she compared on the body condition score. Here is a great pamphlet we used to help us determine her body condition score. https://assurance.redtractor.org.uk/contentfiles/Farmers-5476.pdf?_=635912156462522175

So, poor Sadie needs some body conditioning improvement. So exactly how do we do this? First thing we did was make sure she had no internal or external parasites. These types of parasites can decrease a cow's body condition. So, we treated for this by doing an injectable to get rid of the parasites. Here is an article on parasite control for cows that you may find informative. https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/wbic/2016/03/16/parasite-control-for-cow-calf-operations/

Next, we used supplemental feeding for Sadie only, because all the other cows were healthy looking. We took her out of the pasture daily and let her graze alone in another area with tall growing grass. She is halter broken and easy to work with which is a necessity for a milk cow. We let her graze alone for an hour daily. We also took advantage of this alone time with her to feed her extra grains. We have been feeding her cotton meal seed, 13 % protein pellets, fermented corn, and she has acces to a 24 % protein cattle tub. She is starting to gain weight. Thank goodness!

We are also using this time to train her. She is getting used to us leading her, touching her udders, and feeling comfortable around us. Here is a great video on how to train a dairy heifer or a cow.

Have a happy and productive homesteading day!


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