Dry cow management is crucial to a cow’s performance and health in the next lactation. Metabolic disorders, feed intake after calving, fertility and milk production and composition are strongly influenced by feeding in the dry period.
The dry cow period is between 60 – 70 days before calving. This is the period when milking is stopped abruptly.
The reasons for drying off are: nutrient requirements of the fetus are high during the last months of gestation, and replenish body nutrients are depleted during lactation If the cow does not have the optimum dry period between lactations, its subsequent milk yield will be reduced, at least 30% reduction in production. The dry period allows the udder to rest and the cow to become strong again, to build up body reserves ready for the next lactation.
Dry Cow Feeding
The primary aim of dry cow feeding is to maintain body condition by ensuring adequate energy intake and to ensure that cows start their new lactation in the best nutritional status. This helps to get the cow into good condition at calving, to produce a good calf and to have enough reserves to produce milk during early lactation.
Inadequate dry cow nutrition can result in a substantial drain of maternal nutrient reserves to sustain the developing fetus. Maternal reserve depletion prepartum has a negative effect on the quality of the colostrum produced postpartum and also on subsequent lactation performance.
At calving, dairy animals go into a negative nutrient balance hence it is important that a cow during her dry period receives enough minerals, improved folder and concentrates to enable her to give birth to a strong healthy calf, withstand post-calving problems and have reserves for her to produce higher milk yield.
To avoid negative nutrient balance, farmers need to flush feed their animals two weeks before calving.
Nutrition during the dry period will influence the quantity and quality of the colostrum that will be produced after calving. Colostrum is very important for the calf’s immune system during its early life.
It helps the calf fight against disease-causing organisms since it contains antibodies that are passed on from the mother.
At Novatek Animal Feeds, we produce Novatek Dry Cow concentrate in order to help farmers meet their animal’s nutritional requirements during this critical period. The concentrate can be mixed with raw materials such as No. 3 meal, maize bran, cotton cake, sunflower cake, soya cake and wheat bran. This will help the cow meet its nutritional requirements, especially during the dry season when the grass is dry and less nutritious thereby improving the body condition score of the cow.