UK & World News
Fat Cows Must Go On Diet, Farmers Warned
Cows have become too fat and need to go on a crash diet, farming experts have warned.
Scientists at Scotland's Rural College say good grass-growing conditions last year, and the production of excellent quality of silage and hay had led to cattle becoming obese.
This can cause problems when calving and pose a risk to both the mother and her young.
Livestock farmers are being advised to identify any cattle which may have overeaten, and slim them down urgently.
Beef specialist Dr Basil Lowman noticed the problem among herds he visited over the winter.
He said: "Some producers are concerned about the condition of their cows and the potential for a much higher risk of calving difficulties when calving starts in a month's time."
Difficulties at calving time are often linked to the condition of the cow, and can cause significant costs.
It can lead to the new-born calf to struggle and be more at risk from disease, while the cows face the threat of increased infertility.
Dr Lowman said: "If there are a proportion of obese cows, with rings of fat clearly visible around their tail-head then these should be drawn out into a separate group and put onto a well-balanced, straw-based ration to encourage them to lose as much fat as possible prior to calving.
"This may seem just extra costs and hassle but compared with severe calving difficulties, caesareans or even casualties, it will be time and money extremely well invested."
But as part of a cow's diet, experts stress the need to maintain the animal's protein and mineral intake.
Feeding the cow only straw would cause complications and kill it.
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