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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Don't Forget About Your Dry Cows

Dairy Pipeline: June 2007

John Currin
Extension Dairy Veterinarian
(540) 231-5838;

Most farms experience an increase in problems with fresh cows every summer. Following are the most common reasons and simple remedies:

1. Increased number of dry cows: Due to the difficulty in getting cows pregnant during the summer, a disproportionate number will become pregnant from October through December. This fact leads to a large number of cows in the dry lot from May through July. It is important to ensure that your facilities are set up to handle the number of dry cows you will have during the summer (especially feed bunk space).

2. Heat stress: Dry cows suffer from heat stress too. Dry matter intake can be significantly reduced by heat stress. Many dairy farms have made little or no provisions for heat abatement in their dry cows. Recent research has shown a direct correlation between negative energy balance precalving and likelihood of cows developing retained placenta and metritis postcalving. In addition to decreased dry matter intake, these heat stressed cows alsoexpend a significant amount of energy to cool themselves. Remember to monitor the nutrition of your dry cows.

3. Summer workload: Summer is a very busy time of year for dairy farmers and it is easy to forget about the dry cows. By spending more time managing dry cows now, you will be making a small investment in time that can pay huge dividends in the future by cutting down on the number of sick fresh cows and enabling cows to produce more milk for their lactation.

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