As we get into the summer many of our farms will be thinking about the new calving season, with dry cow management key to it’s success. If you are autumn block calving or an all year round herd, it is a critical time in the cow’s annual cycle, setting her up for her next lactation.
In the lead up to the important event of calving, we have a few pieces of information we thought was interesting to share, ponder and discuss to keep dry cow management improving and at the front of our minds:
Feed intakes play a huge part of the success of transition, the diet composition is part of this, but feed space and availability are crucial in ensuring the cow is able to eat as much as possible to get her ready for lactation. The recommendation is for at least 2ft/60cm of feed space per cow, don’t forget she has a bigger belly with a calf in so more space is important.
A clean calving area will help with cows coming in clean and reduce any disease or infection issues that could negatively impact production or the next reproduction cycle. This also helps calf health, the calf needs to be born into a clean environment and not ingest any dirt, which could be on cow’s teats, to make sure the colostrum is able to take effect.
Did you know if a cow is heat stressed during the dry period it impacts 3 generations of the herd? The cow, her calf and her calf’s calf are all affected, with decreased milk yield and increased culling, therefore keeping dry cows cool is very important for her and the next 2 generations (Laporta et al., 2020)
Water is important for any stock and to make sure every cow has access without a bully cow preventing water access it is better if there are 2 water access points per pen.
At the point of calving the protocols put in place make sure everyone knows what needs to happen to every cow to keep transition smooth. When to intervene in calving? When to move the cow and/or calf? When to offer milking cow ration? When to milk? Colostrum protocol? Is she offered a rehydration drink? Having a clear plan makes sure each cow receives the same treatment, from this hopefully every cow enters the milking herd well, if not it allows alterations to be made to the current system.
For any help on dry cow feeding, housing or management protocol, make sure you talk to the team!