FROM a physiological standpoint, the transition period ‐ that is, the last three weeks before and the first three weeks after parturition ‐ is a pivotal time in a dairy cow's lactation. Despite a strong industry and research focus in this area over the past 20 years, approximately half of all high‐yielding dairy cows fail to make the transition without some form of periparturient disease. This is a sobering statistic, which is unique among mammalian species. This article reviews the conjecture behind the failings of the transition period in cows and examines some new nutritional approaches being investigated to reduce the levels of disease in these animals.
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