We are now in late September; dairy cows have entered late lactation with grass growth and ground conditions is most of the country holding.

Production is beginning to wind down on farms as many farmers begin preparation for drying off cows.

At this time of year a cows production should be reducing by around 2.5% each week.

The focus on farms ahead of drying off is building average farm cover (AFC), to ensure grass is available for grazing until mid-November and early next spring.

Late lactation production

Where grass covers are on target, grazing conditions are good and milk yield is not falling by more than 2.5% per week, you should avoid feeding extra concentrates or silage.

On farms where AFC is on target but grazing conditions are poor and milk yield is falling by more than 2.5% per week, you could consider feeding 1-2kg of concentrates or silage.

It is also important to note that, in late lactation, you are not trying to increase production from cows. You are instead trying to maintain a steady level of reduction in production.

So you should not be trying to increase production by feeding cows extra meal. Feeding extra meal is expensive and is not likely to make economical sense at this time of the year.


On farms where AFC targets has not been reached, you need to slow cows down and build covers ahead of them.

The easiest way to do this is by removing any marginal cows, ones that are not-in-calf, and those cows with a high somatic cell count (SCC).

If you are still behind after removing these cows you will then have to reduce demand on the grazing platform.

Good growth rates during mid-summer means a lot of farms have high quality silage bales available for feeding.

Feeding silage bales as cows exit the parlour will reduce the demand on the grazing platform and should lengthen the rotation.

This will help to build grass covers on the farm and is also a lot cheaper than feeding cows extra meal.