Body condition score (BCS) and milk output should be the main dictating factors when selecting cows for drying off over the next few weeks. Cows that would benefit from a longer dry period (greater than 60 days) should be selected now. These will typically include:
1. Thin cows with a BCS of less than 2.75.
2. First calvers/first lactation cows.
3. Cows with a high somatic cell count (SCC).
4. Cows with a daily milk yield of 8L/day or less.
With current milk prices, some farmers may feel the need to milk thin cows to generate cash-flow. However, cows which are dried off thin will calve down thin, which can result in calving difficulties, metabolic disorders and poor fertility next spring, as well as reduced milk production in the subsequent lactation.
Milk output can be impacted by length of dry period
The graph below highlights the impact of the length of the dry period on milk output during the subsequent lactation, with 60 days being the optimal. A dry period longer than 60 days can negatively affect output as cows become overfat prior to calving down.
Prior to drying off, it is also worthwhile to clip tails to avoid the udder and teats getting contaminated with faeces.
For further information on dry cow management, contact your local Agritech Sales Advisor.