Steps for a smooth dry-off
Following these steps below will help your dry-off run as smoothly as possible, safeguarding the cows and team for next season.
Dry off manageable mobs
Spread the task over several days or weeks to manage feed budgets and people. If you’re transporting cows by truck and trailer immediately after dry-off, set the group size by the number that can fit comfortably in a single truck/trailer unit.
Roster on extra staff
Work on the basis that one person can comfortably clean and treat about 15 to 20 cows/hour, for a maximum of two hours. A spare person to mark cows, hold tails, provide spare tubes, and keep track of cows being treated is also invaluable.
Use trained people
Your vet practice may offer vet technicians to help with drying off large mobs or offer training for farm teams, based around DairyNZ’s Healthy Udder. Find out if your practice offers this.
Choose dry days for drying off
Check the weather forecast before finalising dry-off days and postpone for a day or two if it’s raining. Getting teats clean when the udder is dripping water is almost impossible and may increase the risk of cows getting sick.
Treat cows separately
Don’t start using dry cow antibiotics if milk is still going into the vat. Draft cows out and bring them back in when the pipe is disconnected. If you’re doing a large mob, wash down the platform before bringing them back in, to reduce dirt being splashed onto cows’ teats.
Follow 'MRS T' (mark, record, separate, treat)
All treatments need to be recorded. Marking cows that receive dry cow therapy (DCT) is especially important if only parts of the herd are being dried off.
Gloved hands are much easier to keep clean, which reduces the spread of bacteria between teats and animals.
Clean immediately before treatment
Keep the time between cleaning and treating a teat as short as possible, to avoid treating a dirty teat. Clean and treat one teat before moving onto the next. Work on the back teats first, then the front; this helps reduce the chance of contaminating teats. Use Healthy Udder to remind the team about the best way to administer products.
Teat spray after treatment
Dedicate one person to do this task well. Use freshly made-up teat spray.