According to Sam Leadley, calf-care expert at Attica (N.Y.) Veterinary Associates, it pays to check each cow for pregnancy two weeks before her planned dry-off date. That way, if early embryonic death occurred and the bull rebred her when you weren’t looking, you never dry off a cow that is more than 60 days away from calving — or is still open.

Leadley conducted a one-year cost-benefit analysis of the practice when he was the calf manager at Noblehurst Farms in New York. Despite the extra labor to preg-check all of the cows two weeks before dry off, the return was 3:1 — mainly from the extra milk production and eliminating overly long dry periods. In addition, the practice allowed him to spread out some of the gram-negative vaccinations given at dry off.