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5 Oct 2020

Reduce the cow’s energy supply 2-3 weeks before drying off and stop milking abruptly

Before stopping milking, the cow's energy supply should be reduced over a period of 2-3 weeks. This is especially true for cows with a production level of 30 kg or more. Reducing the energy level before drying off means that the length of the dry period should be decided in good time before the start of the dry period.

If the cow is given separate concentrate feed, this should be removed at least one week prior to drying off. If the cow receives TMR with a high energy concentration, and if she is also a high producer, she should optimally be removed from ad libitum feeding a few weeks before drying off (if this fits in with overall management routines). This change leads to a reduction in the production level.

When moving to the dry-off group and halting of milking, the cow is put on 3-4 kg of dry silage or a complete feeding ration. In addition, the cow should have free access to straw, and a calcium-rich mineral mixture should be assigned to avoid atypical milk fever, which may affect cows (especially Jerseys) during a dry period. There must always be full access to water during drying off. Feeding exclusively with straw and water stresses the cow unnecessarily and should be avoided.

Stop milking abruptly

Irrespective of the cow's production level, the actual drying off should generally be done by stopping milking abruptly.

Cows with subclinical mastitis are at greater risk of developing clinical symptoms during the dry period when milking is abruptly stopped. On the other hand, a healthy udder can be dried off by stopping milking from one day to the next. Cows with elevated cell counts as a sign of subclinical udder infection should therefore be intensively monitored and, if possible, treated with antibiotics.

The udder must then be monitored closely for swelling and signs of mastitis in the first days after halting milking.

Source: SEGES, Denmark