Drying-off is going to be the next major event to occur on most dairy farms.
There are a number of factors that need to be considered ahead of drying-off, with some herds likely to start drying-off cows from now to mid-November onwards.
Ahead of this taking place on farms, you need to start identifying cows and determining when they need to be dried-off.
Many farms will have completed a scan, have data from health detection systems or have service dates to determine the expected calving date of cows.
Knowing the expected calving date of cows is vital to ensure that cows are given enough time dry ahead of calving in spring 2024.
Cows should be given a minimum of six to eight weeks dry to prepare for their next lactation.
Some animals can be offered a longer dry period; examples of this are cows completing their first lactation.
They can be offered between 10 and 12 weeks dry to recover from their first lactation.
Body condition score (BCS) of cows currently should also have an impact on dry-off date.
Cows should ideally be in a condition score of 3.0 to 3.25 at drying-off; cows below this score will require additional time dry and extra feeding.
It is important to note that cows in too high of a condition score should not undergo milking.
Instead these cows should be dried-off based on calving date and instead need to be closely monitored ahead of calving.
Cows with lameness issues can also be dried-off earlier to give them more chance to heal ahead of calving next spring.
Cows that have had an issue with mastitis or high cell counts during the year, should also be candidates for drying-off earlier.
Mastitis and a high cell count is ultimately an infection within the udder, so these cows should benefit from a longer dry-period.
The above factors, along with milk yield, need to be considered before a drying-off date is selected for cows. Cows need to be looked at individually to determine the date.
Milk yields with cows producing under 12L/day are suitable for drying-off immediately.
Waiting for cows to drop below this may result in them being milked for too long.