Getting Cows to Targeted BCS by Calving

Getting cows to an optimal BCS by their calving date is a key requirement to achieve good cow health, productivity and reproduction in the following lactation.

The target is to get the greater majority (>70%) of cows to BCS 5.0 and R2 and R3’s to BCS 5.5.

Although monitoring the herd average is important, just as important is the shape of the herd profile. Having too many light or fat cows will have negative outcomes at a herd level.

Where a wide range in BCS exists, we recommend that cows be wintered for the month of June based on BCS. Given that many crop yields are a little shy of target this year it is good to identify light cows for preferential feeding and hold back those that have already reached or exceeded target BCS.

Ideally cows will have reached target BCS by mid-July and they can be then drafted into groups based on ‘due to calve date’.

Regular monitoring is the only way to ensure that you are on track. We recommend getting a baseline score on the cows after dry-off when cows first arrive at the winter grazing block. A calculated required dry matter intake can then be derived from the current BCS and worked on a winter feed budget. Key monitoring dates are around the start of June, 20th of June and 10th of July. Contact your prime vet for more details.

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