When to skip the dry period

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Cows not given a dry period typically see a 15-percent to 20-percent drop in milk production. While experts generally do not recommend giving up the dry period, certain cows may actually benefit from this practice.

If you want to skip the dry period, says Mike Hutjens, extension dairy specialist at the University of Illinois, make sure potential candidates possess these attributes:

  • A history of metabolic problems after freshening. In research studies, cows not given a dry period often had improved metabolic health after calving, which may benefit cows that are prone to post-calving health disorders.
  • Had trouble getting bred, but is now pregnant. That’s especially true for a cow that is carrying a heifer calf and has a body condition score of 4 or more.

Remember, a zero-day dry period should be the exception rather than the rule. Examine each cow individually before deciding to enroll her in this regimen.



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