Each farm is unique, our aim is to work alongside the farmer to improve the overall health of the cow. By achieving this aim a substantial amount of money can be saved by reducing vet visits and managing mastitis, fertility and lameness. If the cow is fed properly the fertility, mastitis and lameness problems can be controlled, thus improving the overall health of the animal, which will set the foundation for higher yields and better milk quality.

a) Aims of the early dry period:

  1. Maintain dietary fibre content, but not necessarily with extreme levels of straw in the diet.
  2. Limit energy intake to prevent excessive calf growth but ensure that the level is adequate and the diet contains some fermentable starch. (See reference to lameness later)
  3. Avoid excessive crude protein, however, this can be difficult on a grazed grass system.
  4. Meet vitamin and mineral requirements. This is rarely done, some cows get mineral blocks but we have found that some competitors blocks are low specification and inadequate for the job.

b) Aims of the transition or close up diet

  1. To acclimatise the rumen to post calving feeds including concentrate sources. The end products of starch digestion are absorbed through the rumen wall via papillae. If the cow is fed a coarse, high straw diet in the dry period, these papillae are reduced in size by up to 70%. After calving, when high starch diets are fed, the lack of absorptive papillae cause an increase in lactate hence rumen acidosis and laminitis. You get the most sole ulcers and white line disease, two and three months after calving. These lesions take this period to develop and the cause can be tracked back to management at calving. Diet can contribute not only to laminitis but also difficult calvings, retained cleansings and mastitis. Please remember these other factors can also be reduced by correct dry cow management as can lameness. When feeding maize or wholecrop to high yielding dairy cows these forage should be in the transition diet also.
  2. To provide adequate protein nutrition to enhance the immune system, improve colostrum quality and build up protein reserves.
  3. To maintain dry matter intake of feed and improve fertility. There is a sharp decline in the feed intake before calving but then the requirement increases rapidly when calving has taken place. A high density diet is needed and high fibre low energy feeds should be minimised, long fibre is important however at this stage. Extra dry matter intake in the dry period is important, as this carries through to early lactation. This can well be 2kg / day more which is about 4 litres of extra milk at peak and it also leads to reduced body weight loss and improved fertility. Cows in good energy balance at calving will resume heat activity much earlier and stronger, and these are the cows that are easy to get in calf. But remember fertility, the eggs are being developed in the dry period and need the correct nutrition to be viable at the time of service.
  4. To provide adequate vitamin and minerals. These are vital in meeting the aims of the dry period. Many dry cow feeds are well below their requirements for minerals or vitamins. An example is vitamin E requirements. The modern dairy cow should have at least 1,000 iu Vit E / day. Does your dry cow diet provide this? Check this out with GP Feeds.


  1. Trying to slim dry cows in the dry period.
  2. Low quality forage.
  3. Poor cow comfort.
  4. "Roughing" it approach.
  5. Low vitamins and minerals.
  6. Mouldy feeds.
  7. One dry group.
  8. Wrong diet formulation.
  9. The use of milking cow minerals in a dry cow diet.

Dry Cows out at grass

Last month in our newsletter we emphasised the importance of feeding dry cows at grass with minerals and vitamins in order to maintain a healthy immune system at this stage of reproduction. Click here...

Dry cow tubs

On this occasion we explain why GP Feeds dry cow tubs should be an essential part of your management strategy as they contain high levels of Vitamins and Minerals. Click here...


Please telephone GP Feeds today on 01948 661602 for further details because you dairy herd needs your vote to win the election for first class health.