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DRYING OFF DAIRY COWS
With winter approaching you will no doubt be giving some thought to what date the cows should be dried off.
SETTING THE DATE:
Most of you will consider a number of factors when deciding on the exact date and approach used. Among things that will be considered will be, available feed, current cow condition, as well as expected calving spread. Some of you will choose to dry the whole herd off in one go, others will choose to dry off based on current condition, lighter cows first, heavier cows later, or if the calving dates are well spread, the decision may be based more around expected calving date.
DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES:

Many farmers may consider drying off their cows gradually by extending the time between milkings, however expert opinion seems to favour, simply ceasing to milk the cow causing sudden dry off, as it is thought that this approach minimises risk of udder infection.

THINGS TO CONSIDER:
However you do it, decisions made at this time can have major implications for the next season. Dry off too early and cows can gain excessive condition which can set them up for ketosis problems during the early lactation. If the dry off process takes place too close to the next calving, key parts of the body do not have time to fully rebuild in time for the next lactation. Milk producing cells within the udder are rapidly dying and being replaced while the cow is lactating, during the dry period the udder rapidly regenerates these cells in order to build maximum milk production capacity in anticipation of the next lactation. The majority of cows will also experience some recovery and rebuilding of the cells within the wall of the rumen, the rumen wall often becomes compromised by conditions such as acidosis or subclinical acidosis during lactation.
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