Good dry cow management is the key to two more lactations

Good dry cow management is the key to two more lactations

80% of all problems arise in the transition period. 80 percent. Problems like milk fever, ketosis and metritis are a direct result of shortcomings in dry cow management. This is cutting cow lives short. Why don’t we take better care of our pregnant ladies?

An answer to this question is not simple. It can be a lack of clear information. Here lies an important role for vets, feed advisors and hoof trimmers. Also, there seems to be a tunnel vision among farmers and advisors that stops them from seeing the shortcomings of the barns. Thirdly, fear of investing money and time will be involved. Even though good management doesn’t have to cost more than bad management. Here also lies a task for advisors: ideally they can not only provide the right information, but they can also help clients change.

Problems in the transition period are caused by two things: not enough eating and not enough resting. A dry cow can be up to 100 kg heavier and a lot wider than her colleagues. Therefore she needs a deep, soft bed in which she can easily lie down and get up. We see big differences in resting time of dry cows: from 6 till 15 hours per day. Cows need at least 14 hours of resting time. 3 minutes more resting, means 1 minute more eating. Next to that, the risk of pressure lameness is a lot bigger with that extra 100 kg.

Breaking through tunnel vision means looking critically at housing and management. The most important thing is making maximum lying and eating possible. Pay attention to the cow signals: a standing cow is a bad signal. Solutions are bigger cubicles for the far off cows and a stress-free calving line for the close-up group and the first two weeks after calving. Make sure you have one feeding place per cow. In older barns this can be a bit more difficult, but there are plenty of creative solutions for that.

A lot of farmers are being hold back by the investments they need to do. A good advisor can help them with this. Show farmers how much time and money they’re losing by not changing:

  • Every sick cow costs € 300 average. And a lot of trouble for the farmer
  • Every lactation you lose, needs to be compensated with new young stock. In 2016 the average costs for raising a heifer in the Netherlands were € 1700. Labour costs not included.
  • Dairy cows produce more in later lactations. Farmers miss this extra free production completely.

Insufficient attention for the transition period costs farmers every year again. Not every improvement has to be expensive. Take a first step and see that this earns itself back. After that, go for the next step.

Most feed advisors, vets and hoof trimmers are doing exactly what there being asked: advising a quality ration, treating sick cows and trimming hoofs. Excellent advisors however can also advice on management and housing and help break through tunnel vision. Next to that, a truly good advisor is also able to help farmers change. Don’t take the easy way out. The transition period causes 80% of all problems. Invest in what gives you the most results. The cows deserve it and so do the farmers.

About Dry to Fresh training

This month we’re launching the video course ‘Dry to Fresh’, to improve the transition period. The video course is for farm managers, herd managers, feed advisors, vets, hoof trimmers, fertility experts and everyone else in the dairy industry that is serious about improving the transition period.

The launch will be accompanied with:

Video course Dry to Fresh

Comments (3)

hafiz wasi

a practical n visionary approach in the interest of farmers community

Joep Driessen

hafiz wasi wrote:
a practical n visionary approach in the interest of farmers community

That's what we can achieve if we all work together!

Jochen Tack

Clear and informative article. Indeed this is a very underestimated aspect of dairy farming. Finding a simple solution is the key for advisors like myself. A good and stable relationship with the farmer is of mayor importance in the implementation of the advice.

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