Late Lactation Feeding in 2014 

Risk of FAT Cows Calving Down in 2015
This year, if you are over quota, you may decide to dry cows off early. If you decide to do this, target thin cows and first calvers as they will benefit from an extended dry period. Be cautious about drying all cows in your herd early. There is a danger of some cows becoming too fat which can lead to difficult calvings, milk fever and other metabolic problems. Anecdotally silage quality is very good this year which increases the risk of having fat cows calving down.

Key point
Be cautious about drying all cows in your herd early. A long dry period for cows that are in good condition at drying off can lead to fat cows at calving, meaning higher risk of difficult calvings, milk fever and other metabolic problems.

Target a Body Condition Score (BCS) of 3.03.25 at Calving
Calving your herd down in the correct BCS (individual cow range 3.03.25) is proven to have huge nutritional benefits in the form of improved fertility, improved milk yield and helps avoid difficult calving and metabolic problems e.g. milk fever.  Where a ‘normal’, 9 week dry period is planned, ideally cows should be dried off in the BCS that you want them to calve down in.  This helps reduce meal feeding requirements for dry cows and allows them to be put on a relatively cheap, ‘maintenance only’ diet.

To achieve this, BCS cows now and act on the results;
• Target a longer dry period (10-12 weeks depending on their BCS) for thin cows (BCS <2.75) and feed them well. 
• Cows that are fat (BCS 3.5+) should receive little or no meal before drying off and should ideally have a relatively short dry period (7-8 weeks) to prevent them increasing BCS. 

 

Key point
Cow BCS, dry period length and Silage DMD (feeding value) should dictate your dry cow feeding strategy.

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