The four primary goals for feeding the dry cow from dry off to three weeks prior to calving:

  • To maintain optimum dietary fibre content
  • To limit energy intake
  • To avoid overfeeding protein
  • To meet mineral and vitamin requirements

The control of calcium and phosphorus is important for the prevention of milk fever. Additionally, potassium levels greater than 1.5% of the ration dry matter may interfere with magnesium absorption and calcium mobilization, also resulting in milk fever, as well as retained placentas. Many minerals on the market today, unfortunately do not contain the correct levels of vitamins and minerals needed by the modern dairy cow, but ours do! Please ring us and we will check your minerals for you.

During the dry period, cows should be maintained in good body condition. The condition of the cow as she nears the dry off period is the best index of how to manage her as she makes the transition from the lactating to non-lactating group.

At dry off, cows should have a body condition score of about 3.5 on a scale of 1 (very thin) and 5 (extremely fat).

Thin cows will need to be fed enough to restore their body flesh, plus build up some body reserves. Ideally, cows should not need to gain more than .25 to .50 body condition score during the dry period. Lactating cows utilize energy 25% more efficiently for body gain than do dry cows.

Therefore, the ideal time is to put on additional condition, if needed, is during late lactation. Cows allowed to fatten in excess during the dry period are more subject to displaced abomasums, udder oedema, ketosis and other general health problems than dry cows maintained in adequate body condition. Alternatively, cows entering the dry period in excess condition should not be put on a diet. Research has shown that feeding cows to lose weight during the dry period can lead to fatty livers, ketosis and other disorders.

Proper dry cow management is critical. Decisions made during this period will have a tremendous impact on milk production and health during the next lactation.

A sound dry cow programme should be designed to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Properly nourish the developing calf
  • Maintain optimum body condition
  • Prepare the mammary gland for the next lactation
  • Minimise digestive, metabolic and infectious diseases.

The goal of the dry period is to attain a balance between the gains in production and profit from extending lactation, with any losses in production and profit in the following lactation as a result of fewer days dry. The optimum length of the dry period may vary from one cow to another. General recommendations are that a 45-60 day dry period is associated with highest lactation yield. Short dry periods do not allow for adequate udder involution and longer dry periods can result in over conditioned cows.

Cows are especially susceptible to new intra-mammary infections during the first week following drying off and during the week prior to calving. The national mastitis council suggests treating all quarters on all cows at dry off time, with an approved dry cow treatment product. A teat dip should be used on cows after treatment and animals should be observed daily for a week or until the mammary gland has begun to involute and is not secreting milk.

Above are the major management skills needed, Excel Pre-Calver Rolls is the product needed:-

  • Up to date formulation providing adequate vitamins and minerals for today's cows
  • Contains a range of protein sources to meet DUP and amino acid requirements
  • Help to reduce metabolic problems at calving
  • Stimulates dry matter intakes and milk production post calving
  • Easy and economical to feed to all dry groups without the need for a feeder wagon
  • Recommended feed rate of 2.5kg per day for three weeks before calving across a range of forage types
  • Can be used at low levels to meet requirements of cows in the early stages of the dry period
  • Reduced levels of sodium and potassium to help reduce udder oedema
  • Contains high levels of starch to condition the rumen and stimulate reproductive activity
  • Available in bulk, tote bags or 25kg bags

Reference / Further Reading

Aims of the early dry period...

Excel Dry Cow Minerals...

Excel Dry Cow Rolls...