Light & Dry cow signals

Light & Dry cow signals

Light & Dry CowSignals

You can only check the cow signals with enough light. To manage a cow herd is constantly full of compromises. Lactating cows need a lot of light, dry cows a lot of darkness. In nature cows used to calve in the spring, after a dark winter.

An artificial winter maximizes the light-shower effect

This had a very good effect on feed intake while grazing. What we do nowadays in our barns is change the season for the cows: long summers and short winters. Dry cows are best off in an “artificial winter” according to light. This maximizes the “light-shower” effect after calving. We can keep them in a dark building or dark corner for 6-8 weeks. That means that we should only turn the lights on in this group during daily inspection and cleaning.

However, we like to keep our precalving cows close to the lactating herd for the last 2-3 weeks before calving because of feeding and stress prevention. So we advise to keep this group next to the herd or make a separate light switch for them.

Practical light program

Best option is a light programme in winter with a timer and a sensor. For example: timer on at 6 am, sensor to switch it off when we reach 200 lux by daylight, sensor on when light intensity drops under 200 lux, timer to turn it off around 22 pm.

A little light at night does not harm the cows and is good for the farmer, so you can easily leave one neon tube on at night. Or in milk-robot-barns, leave one light on in the robot. Cows don’t need light to find the food or the robot, but a little light won’t harm them either.

Dry cows

80% of all problems arise in the transition period

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. We need to take better care of our pregnant ladies! To do this, we launched the video course Dry to Fresh this month. This launch will be acompanied with a free webinar (May 23) and a free whitepaper.

Video course Dry to Fresh

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Comments (10)


Thank you the information i want to know my cows are on the way from Australia to Pakistan 17 days by ship 5 months pregnant heifer holstein what should I do at first when cow reach Pakistan on 27th March 2014.

rumen nachev

Hi, how can I buy cows from Holland Holstein dairy.that can be combined with the purchase if someone goes through Bulgaria, for example if there is a course for Bulgaria, Turkey or Greece thanks

Annelise Hever

Allow me some comments regarding your ebook "Light". Most of it are good ideas and worth to check in the barns if we talk about lactating cows. I miss something about calves and young stock. However, regarding dry cows and "Light" I do not fully agree. Did you ever think about the need of vitamin D3, of the dry cow and the unborn calf? Than: We want to encourage a high dry matter intake especially of the dry cow. As you say: Light helps to stimulate DMI. And a third thing: Winter outside a barn is not that much dark except in northern countries. The conclusion that therefore dry cows need less light is maybe a mistake... Best regards Annelise

Joep Driessen

Hi Nadeem, give them water and feed. Say hello to them at arrival without stressing them, so they trust you right away.
Hi Annelise, thanks for your comment! How much light do dry cows need? Vit d, can be made by direct daylight /sunlight... Some people say some minutes outside per day will do the job.
10 kg to 20 kg after calving is a big difference. To eat 10 kg, maybe 10 hours daylight is enough?
Practically in our new barn designs ( vetvice dairy logix robot barn and others) we have the cows 3 weeks before calving i the cow barn. So they already have a vit more light then in the old barn were the far of. Ows are... This might be a good compromise for light and vit d and feed intake. Feel free to join the discusion!

Jos Damhuis

Joep, would be nice if you have a language button for my students (16 year).

Bram9 denBieman9

Jos, internet browsers provide a translate button. I think this can help you out on all websites if translation is wanted. This is the link: (copy/paste)

Timothy C lee

Dairy Tech-World herd Management.

Dry Cows in the first Dry period after Drying off can have less light but went Cows enter the Closeup group 20 days before calving ,then the lighting needs to be the same as lactating Cows to increase feed intake before calving and Cows have ajusted to the light change.

Joep Driessen

makes sense!

Asad Anjum

This article is very informative for me. Thanks for that.
Can you share with me the topic cow behaviour on sand bed Vs mattress.
If the mattress then which one is better rubber mats having thickness of 20mm or the mattress which having Ecolatic (Foam bedding).

Joep Driessen

Sand beds is the new standard.... if not sand, than we advise chopped straw + limestone powder + water, or green bedding (dried manure)

Mats is a second best choice... always hock abresions!!! this makes cows live shorter...

See our Video learining course: CowSignals.

Asad Anjum wrote:
This article is very informative for me. Thanks for that.
Can you share with me the topic cow behaviour on sand bed Vs mattress.
If the mattress then which one is better rubber mats having thickness of 20mm or the mattress which having Ecolatic (Foam bedding).

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