Selecting cows to dry off based on body condition score and recommendations on feeding

Body condition score is now key in preparation for next lactation. Ideally 90% of the herd should be dried off in the BCS that is ideal for calving of 3-3.25 and this should not change during the dry period.

Research has shown that cows calving in BCS ≤2.75 have ≤ 16% less likely to go in calf in the 1st 6 weeks of the breeding season 11% lower conception rate to first service than cows calving in correct condition.

With current milk prices, farmers may be tempted to milk on cows that are thin until they reach the dry off date of 60 days before calving. However, thin cows (< 2.75) benefit from a longer dry period. Every condition score (~ 50 kg) below target at calving results in the cow milking below optimum during the next lactation and having reduced fertility.

To achieve a target BCS of 3-3.25 at calving dry cows should be fed according to their BCS and silage quality.

Silage DMD BCS 2.5 BCS 2.75 BCS 3-3.25
12 weeks dry 10 weeks dry 8 weeks dry
64-68% Ad lib silage + 3 kg meal Ad lib silage + 2 kg meal Ad lib silage + 1 kg meal
68-72% Ad lib silage + 2 kg meal Ad lib silage + 1 kg meal Ad lib silage 
>72% Ad lib silage + 1 kg meal Ad lib silage  Silage restricted

For more information please contact your local Glanbia Ireland representative.

First Published 23 Novemeber 2021

Tagged with: Dairy


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