Taking steps to reduce yield prior to dry off

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The last milk recordings of the lactation are underway in preparation for drying off. The dry period is an essential part of the cow’s lactation cycle. It allows the mammary tissue to repair and restore, allowing for optimal production in the next lactation.

Nutritional management around drying off can play an important role in minimising mastitis during the dry period.

Cows producing less than 10 L of milk per day near dry off should tolerate the drying off process, provided good management practices are in place at and after drying off. Cows producing greater than 10L will require more active management of their plane of nutrition to reduce milk volumes.

Reducing the plane of nutrition (amount of feed the cow has access to) has shown to be more an effective tool to reduce volumes and accelerate mammary involution than switching to once a day milking. Do not underfeed the cow, it is the milk yield that needs reducing, not body weight. This is achieved by reducing the diet by 30-50 % while maintaining sufficient energy intake for a cow at 7 months pregnant being dried off 60 days before calving. This feeding strategy should be implemented at least one week prior to the dry off date, depending on the milk yield.  Restricting the diet up to 7 days after dry off on a “maintance diet” accelerates the udder involution process. Providing a restricted amount of silage and ad lib access to straw reduces nutrient intake while maintaining rumen fill. Restricted intakes showed to reduce under leakage, under firmness and the likelihood of mastitis.

Odensten, M.O., Holtenius, K. and Waller, K.P., 2007. Effects of two different feeding strategies during dry-off on certain health aspects of dairy cows. Journal of dairy science90(2), pp.898-907.

Tucker, C.B., Lacy-Hulbert, S.J. and Webster, J.R., 2009. Effect of milking frequency and feeding level before and after dry off on dairy cattle behavior and udder characteristics. Journal of dairy science92(7), pp.3194-3203.

First Published 19 November 2021

Tagged with: Dairy


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