To ignore, or significantly shorten, the dry period could have a detrimental effect on the productivity of the herd in 2016, according to Animal Health Ireland (AHI).

In the absence of quotas this year, AHI has stated that there may be a temptation to continue milking cows as long as they keep producing milk.

However, it advises that this could prove to be a costly exercise in the long run.

It is important to remember that every cow needs a dry period before she calves again and starts her next lactation, AHI states.

The dry period is the time when a cow’s mammary tissue regenerates, repairs and prepares to produce milk again.

It is also the period when cows have an opportunity to the optimal body condition score, in preparation for calving and the start of the next breeding cycle, AHI advises.

The dry period is also the time when the milker gets to take a break, which is important for their own mental and physical health.

The general recommendation from AHI is that cows need a dry period that is at least 42 days long.

Shorter dry periods can increase the risk of antibiotic residues in milk after calving, if sufficient attention is not given to the minimum dry period duration of the product, it advises.

Just because product was fine to use last year on cows that had a seven-week dry period, doesn’t automatically mean that it is okay to use this year in cows that might only be dry for six weeks, AHI states.

It advises that the dry period is also an ideal time to deal with those high SCC cows, or chronic cases of mastitis.

While factors such as the bacteria involved can influence the outcome, generally dry cow therapy (DCT) delivers a better cure rate than treating cows during lactation, according to AHI.

It advises that hygiene at drying off is absolutely crucial – what you do now will have an impact on udder health in 2016.