Extra focus on fresh cows

Published: 2021-02-19

During the last year, extra focus has been put on the fresh cows at the Danish farmer Flemming Pedersen’s high yield herd, with great results! Where ketosis was formerly common, it’s now rare. The recipe has been the addition of extra grain, protein and the additive Metabolic Booster from Vilomix for the fresh cows.

With 500 high yielding Danish Red Dairy cows – and a target of 550 – Flemming Pedersen is not short of ambition at his Danish farm. 

His herd of Danish Red Dairy cows achieved the highest ever value supplied to the dairy in 2020 of 881 kg fat and protein.
The target now is 12,200 kg Energy corrected milk, which is going to require improvement on all fronts.

The problem with red cows in general can be that they put on body fat, and have a tendency to grow fatter if they do not gestate at the right time. Flemming has increased the number of cows in the herd without culling, and now has a number of older and slightly bigger cows.

With the optimum feed, we avoid ketosis almost completely


Danish farmer Flemming Pedersen
500 Danish Red Dairy cows

Focus on feeding around calving time and the fresh cows

About one year ago, cows with ketosis after calving were a common sight, and extra focus was put on dry cow feeding and the startup. The correct dry cow feeding meant better control of condition and colustrum quality. The calves became stronger, and higher milk feed has also meant much higher daily gains. 

A TMR is prepared for all milking cows, and the fresh cow group of around 50 cows gets a supplement of a further approx. 1.3 kg grain, 0.7 kg soybean meal and the additive Metabolic Booster from Vilomix, which contains rumen-protected cholin. Flemming has found that the cows start well after calving as a result of the measures.

There are generally very low BHB concentrations in the milk indicating ketosis, and actual treatment for ketosis is rarely required, whereas it used to be a problem. The older cows in particular benefit from the extra addition, starting with an ECM yield on average 2.6 kg higher than target over the last 14 months.

Flemming is in no doubt that part of his success is also due to good herd management. The feed manager and personnel played a major part in getting things to succeed. The farm generally enjoys a high level of engagement and focus on training the personnel to be able to deal with the problems they encounter at work.

Why is rumen-protected choline so important for the lactation start?

The dilemma for a high-production cow at the start of lactation is lack of energy for milk production. The fullness and energy concentration of a feed ration is often insufficient for a cow to gain sufficient energy from it. Fat conversion increases significantly around and shortly after calving as a result, as a lot of the fat is transported onwards into milk production, but more is also ‘stored’ in the liver (liver fat).

As a nutrient, choline plays a key role, as it cuts the risk of liver fat and ketosis. Vilomix’s Metabolic Booster contains choline, which boosts the transport of fat from the liver, cutting the risk of liver fat and ketosis, whilst also reducing weight loss.

The addition of extra choline in a series of trials has shown its positive effect on output. Metabolic Booster can stimulate the metabolism to convert more nutrients, which means better energy status and startup, and more milk.

Metabolic Booster has added choline in rumen-protected form. Rumen-protected choline has the advantage of not being broken down in the rumen, and is therefore transported to the liver intact, where it boosts fat conversion.

Metabolic Booster is a supplementary feed used in the period around calving.


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