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Planning your Dairy Herd Dry-Off

After a busy season on the farm, it is important to dry your herd off correctly to avoid issues down the line.

The first step is planning.

You should consider the timing of dry-off and select a strategy that fits your herd parameters and goals for the end of the season. Conversations with your vet, regional field officer and staff will help with your planning process.

To get you started, here are some steps you can take to develop your dry-off plan.

Step 1: Talk to your vet

To start with, it helps to review your previous dry-off plans and performance. Consider the issues that came up and ask your vet for input on how best to avoid them this season.

Consult with them at any point during your plan when you feel like you could benefit from some advice.

Step 2: Timing your herd dry-off

The basic rule of thumb is to ensure that your herd is dried off at least 60 days prior to calving, to ensure that they have enough rest before the busy period.

You may choose to dry certain cows off earlier – high cell count cows and those producing low milk volumes can cost you more in the milking herd than they produce in income. As a result, drying them off earlier can be more profitable.

Step 3: Select a strategy

There are a few different strategies you can choose from.

Drying off based on calving date

This strategy involves a rolling dry-off period where individual cows are dried off based on their calving dates. Preg test results are used to determine the right date.

This optimises milk production volumes for the season while giving the udder enough time to repair itself before the next season.

It does require a bit more planning in the beginning but is well worth it.

Blanket dry-cow therapy

This strategy involves using a standard dry-cow therapy drug across the whole herd on a selected date.

This minimises the amount of prior planning required and gets the process over with in one go. However, it is less popular than the individual approach because using this method, some cows will be treated before reaching their 305 days in milk.

Selective dry-cow therapy

This strategy is often used in conjunction with the two above.

It involves separating cows with high cell counts into a separate herd then treating with a higher potency dry-cow therapy drug such as Cepravin DC.

Discuss your threshold cell count with your vet. Use herd test results, management reports and data to select which cows would benefit from selective treatment.

Step 4: Order supplies

Get your orders in earlier to make sure you have everything you need on-hand.

Make sure you have enough dry-cow therapy to cover the whole herd. You will also need extra gloves and teat spray.

Consider giving each cow a shot of BioBoost on the day to promote immunity and recovery over this stressful time. Order yours here

Step 5: Train your staff

Organise a training day with your vet, covering procedures for the dry-off period. This will help your staff to feel comfortable with what is expected of them, while ensuring consistency and quality are maintained.

Step 6: Who to notify

Get in touch with your milk transport company and regional field officer to let them know your dry-off date and last pick-up date.

Make sure you’ve been in touch with your feed supply company to let them know about your changing requirements, too.

Proper planning will help ensure that your dry-off period goes as smoothly as possible. It is worth the initial effort to get it right.

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