As we move into November, planning must get underway for drying-off cows and ensuring that you have all of the required equipment.
Planning for drying-off is vital to ensure that the job is completed in an efficient and hygienic manner.
When drying-off cows, it is important that it is done separately and not during milking.
The goal is to dry off the last cow as well as you did the first cow; it is advised no more than 20 cows/person should be done on one day.
The importance of good hygiene cannot be over emphasised.
Having a system in place for cleaning, sterilising teats and tubing and repeating the process for each cow is also an important part of the routine and teats should be disinfected after administrating tubes.
Before you start drying-off cows, you should practice the process to ensure you have everything that you require.
Cleaning the parlour between batches helps to maintain a clean environment.
Following drying off, keep the cows standing for a minimum of 30min in a clean environment, like a nearby dry field, clean yard or clean cubicles.
The necessary equipment needed includes:
- A clean apron;
- Head torch;
- Disposable gloves;
- Teat wipes or cotton balls and surgical spirits;
- Marker and recording notebook;
- And intramammary tubes, including teat sealers.
Drying off cows should be avoided when you are tired, hungry, or stressed.
Cows are susceptible to new infections particularly in the early dry period before their teats have sealed and in the two weeks prior to calving.
Cows need to be monitored closely during these times because if mastitis is not identified promptly, the cow can become very sick, very quickly.
You also need to keep a record of the cell counts of each cow prior to drying-off and after the first milk recording in the next lactation.
This will help to determine if the drying-off process has been successful and what the cure rate was.
An increase in cell counts or a rise in the clinical cases of mastitis could indicate an issue at drying-off or during the dry period.