The next major event of a spring-calving cow’s lactation will be the drying off process, which for some cows may only be a few weeks away.
While for most cows it is more than a few weeks away, it is important to plan ahead. Getting the process right is important because it is the start of next year’s lactation.
SCC and BCS
If you have been milk recording throughout the year and are planning on using selective dry cow therapy (SDCT) you need to identify suitable cows.
The somatic cell count (SCC) limit you set for cows should be determined based on discussions with your vet, milk quality advisor and farm advisor. Every farm is different, so a generic figure will not work.
The drying off date of cows should be based off their expected calving date in spring of next year.
Too long of a dry period may lead to cows becoming overfat, while too short will not allow enough time for cows to recover.
A 60-day dry period is adequate for cows in the correct body condition score (BCS) at drying off. You should score all your cows over the next few weeks and identify cows that may require a longer dry period.
Other cows that may require a longer dry period are first lactation cows and high SCC cows.
Ahead of drying off you should ensure that you have plenty of help and all the necessary equipment.
You should start enquiring about the required equipment if you have not done so already – all spring-calving herds will be drying off cows at the same time.
This will place increased pressure on suppliers, so it is better to have the equipment pre-ordered or already on the farm.
You should avoid drying off more than 20 cows in one day, unless multiple people are actively drying off cows.
Dry off cows that require antibiotics and those that are only receiving a teat sealer in different batches, to avoid confusion.