SOUTH AFRICA

The Dry Period in the Dairy Cow
Dr Chris van Dijk

The dry period is not the end of the previous lactation, but the beginning of the next lactation. Although most people recognise this fact the dry pregnant cow still seems to be one of the most neglected animals on some farms. Managing the cow during the last 60 days of gestation and managing the calf during the first 24 hours of life influence the future health of the cow and calf more than any other aspect of management on a dairy farm.

In a proper dry cow management program, the following aspects should be addressed: nutrition, vaccination, general management, udder health, internal and external parasites and peripartal health management.

One of the more important aspects is: udder health. Reasons for udder care are:  most udder problems appear during the end of lactation or in the initial 3 weeks post dry off and during the final stages of the dry period. This develops either from unrecognised or uncured or from new mastitogenic infections. To cure existing cases and to prevent new infections a program must be designed to be to the advantage of cow and producer.

Therapy

Why: The dry period is an important rest period for the cow and her udder before the next lactation. The cow will also gain new hormonal stimulation for the subsequent lactation by means of new parturition. The optimal length is 60 days and it depends on the daily milk production, persistency and calving interval.
When: With accurate breeding records this is either manually or computer calculated, with the optimum 60-70 days prepartum.
How: Although cows these days are producing more milk than in the past (better breeding and the use of products like rBST) the method of choice is still abrupt dry off at the calculated day. In most herds so called blanket therapy where all cows are treated at dry off is still the recommended method.

Procedure

The following is a recommended protocol to be followed during each dry off procedure:

  • MILK COW OUT COMPLETELY
  • CLEAN TEATS WITH A CLEAN PAPER TOWEL
  • PREDIP TEATS WITH AN IODINE (or alternative) DIP - LEAVE 5 - 10 minutes 
  • PREDIP AGAIN
  • INFUSE DRY COW THERAPY ACCORDING TO ANTIBIOGRAM
  • PARTIAL INFUSION
  • POST INFUSION - IODINE DIP
  • RESTRAIN ONE HOUR
  • MONITOR DAILY FOR ONE WEEK AFTER DRY OFF
  • POST DRY OFF - MILK OUT IF NECESSARY (REPEAT PROCEDURE AS ABOVE)
  • PRE CALVING - DIP 10 DAYS PRE CALVING
  • OBSERVE FOR MASTITIS

Disclaimer: Zoetis takes no responsibility for any claims that may arise from information contained in this information sheet. Individual situations may vary from location to location and it is recommended that you consult your veterinarian before any management or treatment decisions are implemented.

Disclaimer: Zoetis takes no responsibility for any claims that may arise from information contained in this information sheet. Individual situations may vary from location to location and it is recommended that you consult your veterinarian before any management or treatment decisions are implemented.

Vrywaring: Zoetis neem geen verantwoordelikheid vir enige eise wat mag voortspruit uit inligting vervat in hierdie inligtingsdokument. Individuele situasies varieer van plek tot plek en dit word voorgestel dat u eers u veearts kontak alvorens enige bestuurs- of behandelingsbesluite geïmplementeer word.