Evaluation of management factors influencing the transition success in cattle on Dutch and Flemish dairy farms
Beest, Veerle van
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This observational study provides information about management strategies on Dutch and Flemish dairy farms that possibly affect the transition period of the cow. A survey covering more than 90 questions, based on seven themes related to the management in the periparturient period was conducted on 36 farmers (17 from the Netherlands and 19 from Belgium). The results were visualized and linked to a new key performance indicator: the lactation onset value (LOV). This KPI is created to provide a method for benchmarking the success of transition on different farms throughout Europe. The participating farms were compared with each other for each question by their calculated LOV’s. Factors which were associated with a better LOV were the occurrence of more than 100 calvings per year versus less than 100 and the introduction of the heifers into the lactating group versus the dry cow group. Other factors associated with a better LOV, but based on a small group of farmers, were feeding one ration during dry off versus two rations and taking milk reducing measures to all cows before drying off, instead of some cows. In conclusion, a large number of calvings per year, the introduction of heifers into the lactating herd, feeding a stable ration during the dry off period and taking measures to reduce the milk production before dry off for all cows might be success factors for the transition period. Now that a broad insight of the results and their influence on transition has been gained, more extensive statistical models should be set up and follow-up research should be carried out that zooms in on these aspects.