The objective monitor Transition Cow IndexTM (TCI; Nordlund, 2006) has allowed the study of effectiveness of transition management programs. In 2005, Ken Nordlund, DVM, University of Wisconsin, and his team surveyed the transition management practices of 50 Wisconsin freestall herds.
Five factors emerged as the primary factors associated with herd average TCI scores. These risk factors are considered to be common problems in today’s intensively managed freestall dairies.
The 5 factors:
1. Bunk space in both the pre-fresh and fresh cow pens.
2. Minimizing pen moves and social stress in the peripartum period, particularly during the 10 days prior to calving.
3. Increasing cow comfort through the period with amply-sized stalls.
4. Sand resting surfaces on which to lie.
5. An efficient and effective screening process to identify cows needing medical attention or nursing care.
The practices of the herdspersons of the elite transition programs in Nordlund’s survey were remarkably similar:
- Placement of fresh TMR while fresh cows were being milked.
- Observe them returning to the pen.
- Self-locks engaged.
- Assessment of appetite and attitude
This information was presented at the 2008 Dairy Cattle Reproductive Council meeting.