Drying-Off Dairy Cows

I recently read an article entitled “5 common mistakes farmers make when drying off cows. The author discussed many items of concern to insure a healthy dry-off. It is a good, informative discussion that is well worth the time to read.  It can be viewed at www.independent.ie/business/farming/dairy/dairy-advice/5-common-mistakes-farmers-make-when-drying-off-cows-37495977.html.

While drying-off dairy cattle can be a daunting task, it is also an opportunity to prepare the cow for the next lactation. If done right it can affect the health and productive of the cow as well as her calf and future generations.  Done wrong it can have devastation results.

Here is my prescription for drying-off a dairy cow.  I know some of the steps may not be acceptable to some dairy professionals but it does conform to the innate physiology of the cow.    Give it a try,  I think you will be pleased at the results. 

At Dry-Off

  1. Milk out a 4 quarters, then quit milking  (After cessation of milking, it takes 5 or 6 days for the hormonal system of a cow to get the message to actually quit producing milk.  During that time, if the cow is milked to relieve the tight udder, the clock starts again - and it takes another 5 or 6 days.  The only valid reason to milk a cow during this critical period is if she shows signs of an udder infection.) 
  2. Administer a natural immune stimulant.  After 5 - 6 days, when the swelling in the udder begins to recede, check the milk and milk out completely. 
  3. If milk is normal, dip the teats.  The transition from a lactating cow to a dry cow was successful.
  4. If milk is of questionable appearance, repeat steps 1 to 3 above until the milk appears normal.
  5. Moderately restricting feed and water at this time will hasten the dry-off process. 

2 Weeks Before Freshening

  1. Administer a natural immune stimulant.
  2. Pre-Partum Milking.  Check the milk in  each quarter. If pre-fresh secretion is of questionable appearance, start milking all 4 quarters, twice a day.  At first, the secretion will look like honey gradually changing to look like skim milk and they regular milk. 
  3. The colostrum is produced when the cow starts to calve.  Save the milk right before and right after calving and give it to the calf.

Fresh Cows

  1. If indicated, for extra support, administer a natural immune stimulant.
  2. Avoid letting the fresh cow eat the placenta.
  3. Seven days after calving, infuse the uterus with a natural uterine flush.
  4. Check for elevated temperature daily for 10 to 14 days to get a head start on any problems that may be developing.
  5. Check for sub-clinical milk fever.