With the clocks going forward and the weather slowly improving it finally seems as though spring is on its way. With this our Farm Liason Officer David Selway noticed an interesting difference in pH data from our boluses over the last week. In this blog he explains what he found and examines what could be going on here.

By David Selway

Farm Liaison Officer 

Recent downloads from eCow Farm Boluses performed by our team earlier this week on two separate farms, has highlighted some fascinating results and insights. Both farms are large, well managed herds with high yielding Holstein cows fed on a TMR diet. In both situations there have been no changes to diet, feeding time, push-ups, or any of the myriad of things that can affect rumen pH.

However, in both instances pH has notably dropped in all measured cows to the point where they are in the SARA (sub-acute ruminal acidosis) danger zone for at least two days. Speaking to a vet associated with one of the farms, there has been a marked increase in LDA’s (left displaced abomasum) across their practice as well since the weekend.

Figure 1- An example of data from two of our boluses, over the past couple of days there has been a noticeable decrease in pH despite no apparent on-farm changes.

So, what’s going on? It was whilst looking at the data alongside the herd managers that one possible explanation was suggested. Has the one-hour clock change at the weekend affected things? 

On the outside, it doesn’t jump out as a change which would have too much effect however it is worth considering. This is because as we know, cows are creatures of habit and a one-hour shift forwards in milking might have the effect of disrupting the appetite post-milking to the point where the animals delay their post-milking feed or eat a bit less. When they do eventually feed, they might find there are unfamiliar faces at the feed bunk or sorted feed. 

This is an area that we will continue to monitor but if we see this replicated across more herds, the importance of timings and consistency might be brought into even sharper focus. We have already observed the impact of other changes in farm routine on pH, so could this be another factor to consider?

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