Dry matter intake should peak about eight to 10 weeks after calving, says Bill Weiss, dairy nutritionist at Ohio State University. If peak dry matter intake is delayed, it impacts milk production and reproductive performance.

During the first week of lactation, fresh cows should eat about 70 percent as much as cows at peak intake. You can monitor your fresh cows’ intake by comparing it to cows at peak intake. For example, if cows at peak intake consume about 50 pounds of dry matter, your fresh cow group should average 70 percent of that, or 35 pounds of dry matter intake. Three weeks into lactation, fresh cows should be eating 85 percent as much as cows at peak intake.