Dry cows diets: too fat can be as bad as too thin
Unsuitable dry cow nutrition increases culling rates, metabolic diseases, lameness and mastitis.
It reduces fertility, milk yields and milk composition, and has enormous potential to reduce farm profits. Researchers and successful dairy farmers now regard nutrition and management in the dry period as more important and more difficult than during the milking period. Many successful farmers are putting a lot of effort into developing an effective management plan for their dry cows.
The aim is to have cows drying off at condition score 3 to 3.25, and in the same condition when they calve down. Adequate energy, minerals and trace elements are very important.
Feed companies have helped to develop specific feeding and management systems for the dry cow period, which are designed to ensure that each cow gets her requirements.
Having cows too fat can be as bad as too thin.
All cows should be at condition score 3 to 3.25 as soon as possible after drying off, and maintained at this condition until calving. Problems associated with cows that are too fat during the dry period are: Long periods of low intakes and negative energy after calving. Increased chances of milk fever, fatty liver, ketosis, difficult calving, retained placenta and displaced abomasum. 30% lower feed intake, and lower production in early lactation.
National Dairy Show 2018: show judge Edward Griffiths, left, with Gearoid Kenny, Herdwatch (award sponsor) and handler Michael Blake with Knockbrown Hagley Eileen, owned by the O’sullivan family, best heifer born after February 2018, and below with handler Jack Walsh and John Coughlan and Tom Phelan, IFA (award sponsor), with Cappavilla Cecelia 12 owned by John & M Leahy, best confined heifer in milk.