Dry Cow Management
Take care of body condition, hoof and udder health before the dry period

The dry period is a recovery phase. The cow's condition before the dry period determines whether the dry period will be primarily a repair and / or restitution period.
The likelihood of the dry period ending with a healthy new calf is based on the previous lactation. Three main areas in particular are of great importance as the basis for a healthy start to the new lactation:

  • Body condition management in late lactation and body condition prior to drying off directly affects milk yield, reproduction and disease incidences in the new lactation
  • Udder health, including any treatment in connection with drying off
  • Hoof health and routine hoof trimming prior to the start of the dry period

Well-founded management routines before and in conjunction with the dry period enhance the cow's self-healing and “readiness” for the new lactation and help the cow improve her physiological condition. Especially for udders and hooves, treatment in connection with hoof trimming helps to ensure the welfare and production of cows just before the start of the new phase in their life cycle.

The perfect condition for the dry period


Body condition should be around 3.0 (scale 1-5)

Cows with body condition 1-2:
  • Single animals – evaluate any past disease course and treatment effects
  • Groups of cows - insufficient feed allocation or uptake
Cows with body condition 4-5:
  • Single animals - consider slaughter before drying off in good time bearing in mind the length of pregnancy
  • Groups of cows - consider reproduction results or feed level for the cows with the lower yield
Cell count should be less than 100,000
  • Cell count 100 - 400,000: consider medical treatment if infection is confirmed
  • Cell count >800,000: medical treatment will have little or no effect

Normal shape of hooves - and no evidence of hoof diseases

Routine hoof inspection and, if necessary, hoof trimming when drying off

Find more details about the routines to ensure good udder health and hoof health when drying off will be included in the coming #TipTuesday. 

Source: SEGES, Denmark

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