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Implementation of hypocalcaemia prevention programmes in commercial dairy herds: From theory to practice

Abstract : Hypocalcaemia prevention programmes have been widely studied in experimental settings, but their feasibility has not been assessed under field conditions. The main objective of this study was to evaluate, in the context of small dairy farms in western France, whether and how dairy farmers implement prevention programmes and manage the feeding of dry cows to prevent hypocalcaemia. Seventy-nine commercial Holstein dairy farms in Brittany (France) were enrolled in a qualitative study in 2019. We conducted in-person interviews with the farmers to 1) understand the rationale behind the type and seasonality of prevention programmes they implemented and 2) assess how closely they followed common recommendations when implementing them. Most farmers (80 %) used at least one prevention programme, especially supplying a mineral mix formulated to meet the needs of dry cows in late gestation (53 %), acidifying the diet in late gestation (37 %), and supplying calcium at calving (oral or injectable form, 37 %). The use of programmes depended on whether the diet composition varied throughout the year. Among farmers who provided an acidified diet, 25 % did not supply a specific mineral mix to dry cows to ensure an adequate amount of P, Ca, and Mg, which could decrease the effectiveness of the acidification programme. A lack of reliability in feeding practices, such as not weighing feed or not delivering feed frequently enough, was identified for 61 % of contributing farms. Management practices could result in supplying an unsuitable amount of P, Ca, or Mg immediately before calving; for example, inappropriate batching practices around calving were identified for 22 % (cows) to 32 % (heifers) of farms. In addition, nearly all contributing farmers had no processes in place to monitor the effectiveness of the programmes implemented. Reasons for this overall lack of compliance should be explored.
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Contributor : Emilie Bernard Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Tuesday, September 27, 2022 - 11:24:32 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 30, 2022 - 3:12:04 AM


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Thomas Aubineau, Raphaël Guatteo, Anne Boudon. Implementation of hypocalcaemia prevention programmes in commercial dairy herds: From theory to practice. Animal, 2022, 16 (10), pp.100639. ⟨10.1016/j.animal.2022.100639⟩. ⟨hal-03789119⟩



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