What are these dry cows doing?

What are these dry cows doing? What should they be doing? Video from Richard Knight, certified CowSignals trainer in the UK. Please leave your feedback, let's share the knowledge. Thank you.

Dry to fresh Signals

Our training course starts with the drying-off day and ends 4 weeks after calving. We explain dry period management from a variety of angles. We approach it from the perspective of a manager of a large farm and we identify with the person who has to do the work. Most importantly, we put ourselves in the position of the cow: what does she need for a good start to lactation?

Next open day training Dry to fresh: Thursday 16 June 2016

Comments (14)

Steffen Elmer

The dry cows have great difficulty in finding a way to lying down, the cubicles are not long enough

Mauro M.

indeed! they are not resting ... the wall to the left of the video is way too close (look at the cow at 1.14)

Nahid Fawi

There is obvious discomfort


A lovely video Richard!
Nice demonstration of intention movements, I would say?

Stuart Knowlden

Certainly seems like lunging space for the larger cows is inadequate nearest sleeper wall which is a shame because the bedding cleanliness and general environment looks good.Cows will be less inclined to lie done and cud especially if they know their difficulty in getting back up again.

annelise Hever

A very informative video indeed. It shows clearly that the cubicles are too short, there is not enougn headspace and the bed itself is most probably not very soft. Please be aware that dry cows are heavier than lactating cows, because of the unborn calves, the surrounding liquids and membranes. They are bearing more weight on their claws and legs. Standing too many hours as shown in this vidoe is a burden, standing up and laying down needs more physical power and is difficult in these conditions. All this additionally to pregnancy and metabolic changes. The worst you can do is housing close up cows in such conditions. Therefore dry cows need at least the same if not higher cow comfort than lactating cows. If you can change the minds of the farmers regarding dry cow manangement there will be an immediate and remarkable shift in the performance of the fresh cows, less metabolic diseases and less claw leason in early lactation.


An old barn, which the cows have outgrown. Still has the original stall dividers at the bottom left corner it seems. Interesting to see one cow trying to get another out of a stall on the left side, but giving up after time and coming into one with the older dividers. Is it possible to take the outside wall out 3 feet to have lunge space and an open wall with curtains? Payback would be quick and cows would be in the herd for longer!!

Peter Stockdale

I saw this first as a young vet in Ontario some 50 years ago and attributed it, at that time , to Holsteins replacing Jerseys or Ayreshires in barns designed for these breeds. We also saw more lameness due to the Holsteins having to stand in the gutter too much so that their hooves and coronary bands were nearly always wet and covered with dung. Any comments?

Jeanette Fisher

Having such a high proportion of cows standing is a pretty good indicator that they are not comfortable. The cows are exhibiting obvious signs of restlessness - they want to lie down but are not happy lying on the LHS of the barn. The cows which do lie down are up again quite quickly - i.e. they are not comfortable. The two cows on the right are much more relaxed; presumably there is more lunge space on that side. This issue would be really stressing these cows and I agree with Danny that if the wall could be moved out 3' the costs would be recouped very quickly.

Géromine Larriviere

The size of cubicles is too small, they are not long enough and thus, they are not comfortable for the cows. This is why there are so many cows standing up.

Richard Knight

Nice observations! The farm is a 60 organic unit. This video was taken over 1 hour between 9 and 10 am with one photo per second. The playback is 30 fps, so two seconds on the video is 1 minute in real time. Check out the rumen contractions as 30 x faster than normal. The cubicles at the bottom left are actually his new plastic ones, with a flexible side so that the cow is not as sore if she bangs it. I would say you are all right, the cubicles are too short- there is a slurry pit through the wall on the left, so limiting expansion that way. Before we took the video, he was thinking about putting a neck rail along the new cubicles along the bottom left. What do you think? It seems that I can feed these good comments back to the farmer, to give food for thought. Interestingly (I have just checked) he has 22 lameness cases per 100 cows per year (some cows have more than case). I'll refer that to Owen for comment!

Dan Griffiths

BCS of some looks to be on the higher side with some appearing to be 3.5 or maybe more visually - mind you that's a nice healthy dry cow in Lancashire isn't it Richard!?

Richard Knight

Hi Dan,
Sure! That's part of his problem- small herd and a small number of dry cows. Where's best to put them? They are more Friesian type and can put fat on with big bale silage and straw! Any ideas?

Jeanette Fisher

It is a bit hard if one cannot see the site but would it be possible to cantilever an extension of the barn out over the slurry pit? Provided there is enough of a barrier to stop cows stepping onto it but still giving sufficient space for cows to lunge into, it might work. (Might be interesting building it though - falling off the scaffold would be messier than falling onto dry land!)

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