Dry Cow Management Goals

Are you hitting your targets for dry cow management? We discuss the targets for optimum health and performance...

Dry Cow Management Goals

The dry period is often talked about as one of the most critical times to get right in the cow’s life cycle. Research has proven that if you do get it right you are more likely to prevent metabolic diseases, improve fertility and even increase milk yields.

Ideally you should be aiming for:-

  • Calving without assistance
  • Producing high quality colostrum
  • Producing healthy calves
  • Increasing milk yields
  • Preventing milk fever and other metabolic disorders

Here are our key points to help you on your way to acheiving these goals:-

  1. Maintain Body Condition Score of 3
    Body condition scoring is a reliable management tool that’s easy to implement and will determine if you really are getting the energy level right. Scoring should happen weekly for dry cows.

    Dry cows with a body condition score over 3.75 at two weeks prior to calving are more prone to depressed intakes, weight loss, fatty liver, ketosis, high NEFA levels, calving problems and reproductive issues. When a cow loses body fat reserves around calving the liver takes up fat and processes it, leading to fatty liver and ketosis.

  2. Introduce groups to manage nutritional needs and cow comfort
    This should include a “far off” group and a “close up” group, as well as a freshly calved group, to meet the differing nutritional demands.

    A high volume, low energy diet.
    Energy should be kept consistent throughout the whole of the dry period. However, when intakes drop in the last two weeks prior to calving, it is important to manage the energy gap. Topping up with DC X-Zel in those two weeks will help to maintain energy balance and help to manage calcium, to prevent milk fever.

    A good level of metabolisable protein should be given to the far-off group to help repair tissue damage in the udder and rumen. This protein amount should be pushed higher in the close-up period, for improved calf performance and milk protein output.

    Cow Comfort
    The groups will also allow you to monitor the dry cows more closely and to ensure that the environment is both clean and comfortable.
    Feet should be trimmed using the functional trimming method before drying off.
    Maternal care is important, make sure she is isolated at the point of calving so that she is protected.
  1. Optimise dry cow minerals
    Dry cows minerals should be balanced and designedfor a solid immune function and to prevent retained cleansings. DC X-Zel gives the option of dry minerals included in a nut form.
  1. Potassium levels in forage
    In the current climate it will be difficult to maintain potassium below the recommended levels. However, this is not an issue for us when using X-Zelit or DC X-Zel.
  1. Maintain a perfect level of calcium at calving
    Studies have shown that where the level of calcium in the blood drops below normal (2.1-2.8mmol/l), the cow is susceptible to milk fever and associated metabolic disorders. We’d recommend the use of X-Zelit or DC X-Zel to provide cows with the perfect balance of calcium at calving. It has also been proven to improve preg rates and date to first conception.

The metabolic calculator allows you to see the costs of not getting your dry cow protocols right. You can input your own farm data into the calculator to get an idea of the costs savings. Please just ask your Ruminant Specialist for further information.


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