With the 2020 milking season soon coming to a close, attentions should be turning to drying off and earmarking what cows should be allowed to go on holiday first.

The calving season won’t be long coming around, so it is important that cows are afforded an adequate dry period so that they can begin to build up body condition ahead of calving time.

Therefore, if not already done so, farmers should begin selecting cows which will benefit from a longer dry period (greater than eight weeks).

For example, thin cows with a body condition score (BCS) of less than 2.75 and first lactation cows should be earmarked for a longer dry period. 

Ideally, farmers should be looking at giving first lactation cows a 12-week dry period, while the rest of the herd can make do with an eight-week dry period, as long as they are in good condition and aren’t suffering from lameness or any other health problems.

Some farmers may feel the need to milk thin cows to generate cash-flow. Cows that are dried off thin, can end up calving down thin, which will lead to calving difficulties, metabolic disorders such as milk fever – with this having a knock-on effect on the cow’s fertility – as well as poorer milk production in the subsequent lactation.