With the end of the season coming, we catch up with vet Joel to work out what you need to have dialled in before you can hang up the milking apron.
What are the steps in organising a successful dry off?
This starts by picking a drying off date where there is plenty of capable staff available to help and may include a date pre-arranged with the vet clinic for available vet or technician help. This will involve resisting the urge to all dry off the day before the snow comes!
Farms with high producing cows at drying off (cows producing >1 kgMS/day) should consider reducing the amount of protein in the diet for a few days prior to the dry off date. This helps the udder to switch off milk production. Feeds such as whole crop silage or fodder beet are great for this.
Make some plans around the dry off day itself. Are you going to dry off the whole herd in a day, or over several days in easier to manage groups? If cows are being transported to grazing for the winter we would recommend either transporting on the day of drying off or waiting a week or more until the pressure has come off the udder. Make sure the transport is booked.
Supplement cows with magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus throughout May to avoid potential metabolic issues over what is a stressful time for the cow.
It can also be a good idea to use extra emollient for 3 or more weeks up to drying off to ensure teats are in the best condition possible to receive any dry cow therapy.
Make sure staff are well rested and fed, take frequent breaks to keep people fresh and doing the job to a high standard.
How can the farmer prepare for the Annual Mastitis Review and Dry Cow Consult?
Bring in any data or records you think could be relevant for discussions. Milk culture results, cull records, herd test results, mastitis treatment records. Having an accurate idea of how mastitis and somatic cell count have trended over the season is really powerful information to have. Sign up for Infovet and get your mastitis cases into MINDA or CRV Insight/MyHerd.
Having reliable data to work with and talk about takes all of the guesswork out of things. It enables you and your vet to make decisions together based on facts.
Get some milk cultures done, even if only on high SCC cows, and if you haven't herd tested for the season, get one booked ASAP.
Lastly, bring an open mind. We are here to help you reach your milk quality goals, and drying off can be a big part of that. Be honest about your intentions, any concerns, your goals, and current practices. Mastitis is the single biggest animal health spend on farm, we want to help you get control over this.
- Joel Hughes