Does a Transition Group of Dry Cows Fit your Operation?
Dairy Pipeline: November 1999
Charles C. Stallings
Extension Dairy Scientist, Nutrition
There has been a lot of talk recently about having a transition group of dry cows. Usually this group is composed of cows within the last 2 to 3 weeks of the dry period. Having two dry cow groups is relatively new to some producers and the question arises as to the benefits. Certainly there is a cost associated with an extra group. Increased labor and management would be one cost; extra feed or more expensive feed ingredients would be another. A recent study here at Virginia Tech indicated cows that were fed higher energy rations during the transition dry phase increased milk production in the resulting lactation. One ration resulted in 6 lbs./day more during the first 60 days of the lactation. There did not seem to be a benefit of increased protein or rumen undegradable protein. Some dairymen feed anionic salts or new products bases on hydrochloric acid to reduce the anion:cation ratio to the close up dry cows. This can cost $.20 to .25 per cow per day but benefits can be reduced milk fever and increased milk production. All things considered, if your herd is large enough to justify 2 dry cow groups, you should consider it. Better feeding to this group can pay dividends. However, rations should be balanced and expensive feed ingredients used only if there is possibility of payback.