To recoup some of the production costs of the year to date, there may be a temptation to continue milking cows as long as they keep producing milk.
However, this could prove to be a costly exercise in the long run.
It is important to remember that every cow needs a dry period before she calves again and starts her next lactation.
This is the time when mammary tissue regenerates, repairs, and prepares to produce milk again.
It is also the period when cows have an opportunity to reach the optimal body condition score (BCS), in preparation for calving and the start of the next breeding cycle.
The dry period is also the time when the milker gets to take a break, which is important for their own mental and physical health.
The general recommendation is that cows need a dry period that is at least 42 days long.
To ignore, or significantly shorten the dry period, could have a detrimental effect on the productivity of the herd in 2019.
Shorter dry periods can also increase the risk of antibiotic residues in milk after calving, if sufficient attention is not given to the minimum dry period duration for the product.
The steps taken by farmers when drying off cows can have a significant impact on mastitis levels during the dry period and also during the following lactation.
It’s critical that the procedure is carried out correctly.
Items required are a marker, ankle strap or tail tape; milking apron/parlour suit and disposable nitrile gloves; methylated/surgical spirits, and cotton wool or disinfecting wipes; dry cow intra-mammary tubes (antibiotic and/or teat sealant); head flash lamp; and record book/animal remedies record.