Dry Cow Management 
Feed and energy during the dry period - part 3

Plan for 3-5 kilograms of straw per cow.

Because dry cows have a high feed absorption capacity, a controlled feed level requires a feed ration with large amounts of straw. Since the straw's feed value can be difficult to determine, it requires a great deal of attention to ensure that animals receive the energy they need. 

You typically need to use between 3.5 and 5.0 kg of straw to make an appropriate ration. The energy level should be adjusted to a level of approximately 10% above the average requirement throughout the dry period. This is to prevent underfeeding if the straw's feed value is misleading or if sorting and mixing cannot be completely avoided. 
It is important not only to feed in a controlled manner at the end of the dry period, but also in the first part. Otherwise, negative effects of a high level of feed can appear at a later point.

In order to ensure that the cows receive as little change in their feed composition as possible prior to calving, the ration in the last weeks should preferably contain the feed materials used after calving, including starch sources.

If it is not possible to comply with all the requirements of a controlled feed level, the cows should be fed restrictively with less straw twice a day. This means having plenty of room for all the cows at the feeder.

If the cows are fed a full feed mix according to appetite, they must not be able to sort through the feed. So the ration must be thoroughly divided and a binder must be used in the ration (water or molasses). 

If the feed is not thoroughly mixed, the strongest cows will go through the ration and sort out the easily digestible feed. This may result in overfeeding of the strongest cows and a risk of underfeeding of the rest of the group.

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