Bryn Davies explains the factors affecting milk components…
Darren and Stuart McMurran who farm at Castlevennon Road, Northern Ireland, have been feeding X-Zelit to their Holstein herd since December 2012. X-Zelit works as it reduces the quantity of available calcium from the cow's feed in the small intestines. The cow then uses her body's calcium resources which reduces the risk of calcium levels dipping at calving and it's really proved its worth. Before using X-Zelit, 15% of the herd suffered from milk fever. Since using it, there were no cases in the first year and only 2 cases since.
They've recently expanded the herd from 300 to 400 milking cows, averaging 11,800 litres per year. As cow health has improved since introducing X-Zelit milk yields have also increased.
Clinical and subclinical milk fever are costing farmers thousands each year, but this can be prevented. In controlled trials, X-Zelit is 100% effective and under practical farming conditions achieves an efficacy of about 90%. Farmers using X-Zelit, are only too eager to tell us the benefits, with healthy cows and financial savings being at the top of the list.
Darren explains, "Prior to using X-Zelit we tried lots of different strategies such as DCAB diets, increasing salts, lowering potassium, using calcium boluses and giving calicum drinks straight after calving. Nothing was making a difference."
"In the first year of using X-Zelit it was difficult to attribute the direct affect on milk production but we increased by over 1000 litres per lactation. We also had no milk fevers or metritis in that first year and only 2 cases since using the product. Compare that with the 45 cases per year we were having, the results speak for themselves."
Before feeding X-Zelit, Darren and Stuart would have to temperature check the cows every day and the majority would have high temperatures suggesting metritis was a real issue. "We had a few blips to start with and a couple of cows with temperatures but now we're so confident in the product that we don't temperature check them anymore."
"Dry cow management is very easy for us. We feed X-Zelit 3 weeks before calving as this suits our management groups. Six hours after calving they go straight into the fresh cow pen with the others. Previously we were scared of cows going down, we kept them in their own straw pen and they didn't go back into the herd until 3 days later."
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