Over one million cows are due to be dried off for the winter over the coming weeks, according to Teagasc.

In advancement of drying off, the agri-research firm has outlined the importance of good management at drying off and throughout the dry period.

It warned that poor management during this period can have a big impact on the quality and volume of milk produced during the following lactation.

With this in mind, Teagasc and Animal Health Ireland, supported by a number of dairy processors, have come together to organise a series of 13 dry cow events throughout the country during late October to mid-November.

Each of the events will focus on four topics:
  • Introducing selective dry cow therapy;
  • Managing in-calf heifers to minimise the risk of mastitis;
  • The skills of drying off cows safely;
  • The nutrition and management of the cow during the dry period for optimum performance in the next lactation.

Speaking at the launch of the events, Teagasc’s dairy specialist, George Ramsbottom, said: “Our research shows us that the foundations of the next lactation are laid down during the previous dry period.

Cows need a minimum of 60 days dry between successive lactations and even longer where body condition score needs to be built up”.

Continuing he added: “This winter will prove an especially challenging one for farmers who are short of fodder. At the events we’ll be looking at options that farmers can take to meet the cow’s energy requirements in such situations”.

Antimicrobial Resistance

Meanwhile, the risk of antimicrobial resistance was also highlighted as an increasing issue of concern according to programme manager with Animal Health Ireland, Finola McCoy.

“One of the topics presented at these events will be selective dry cow therapy. The practice of only using dry cow antibiotic tubes in cows that have evidence, or history, of infection is increasing in many countries – including Ireland.

“However, it is not without risk and it’s important to understand what those risks are so we can minimise them, and make sure that we get good results,” she said.