With the end of lactation fast approaching, AgriLand asked Glanbia Ireland Veterinary Adviser, Joris Somers, what farmers should be doing now in preparation for drying off and the calving season ahead.

According to Joris, it is much easier to make adjustments in terms of body condition score (BCS) while the cows are still milking, rather than waiting until they are dried off.

“While the cows are still milking, you can either increase some energy uptake by the cow – through increasing the meal – or if she is over-conditioned you can reduce the BCS much easier than when she is dried off and not putting any energy into milk,” explained Joris.

How to assess BCS

Joris took us through how farmers can assess their cow’s BCS to see whether or not they are on target for this time of year – to ensure they will be on target by drying off.

He advised farmers to have their cows at a BCS of three at drying off – to allow for some of an increase before calving to, at most, reach a target BCS of 3.5

Check out the video (below) to see how Joris assesses Daisy’s BCS.

Drying off fast approaching

Furthermore, Joris advised farmers to find out where their herd is now in terms of somatic cell count (SCC) – before drying off – through carrying out a milk recording or using the Californian milk test.

Following this, you can “take a milk sample and send it into Glanbia Ireland for culturing to identify what bacteria are causing the mastitis in your herd”.

“Once this is done, you can find out where the source of the mastitis is coming from. Then, through carrying out a sensitivity test you can find out what tube is most suitable for drying off,” explained Joris.

Considering SDCT?

This year, more than ever, dairy farmers are considering carrying out selective dry cow therapy (SDCT).

Finally, we asked Joris what criteria should your herd meet before considering SDCT.

I think at this stage let’s take it in baby steps. Set the bar at a SCC of 100,000 and then select out the cows that have never had a case of mastitis or have an SCC under this.

“Try these with just teat sealer but, when you are doing this you need to have hospital-like conditions; the last thing you want is to seal the infection in the cow’s udder,” highlighted Joris.