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Planning a proper dry-off on your farm can have significant impacts for the coming season, including how and when to start drying off cows. The page outlines essential steps for a smooth dry-off process. These steps include spreading the task over days or weeks, rostering extra staff, using trained individuals, choosing dry days for drying off, treating cows separately, marking and recording treatments, wearing gloves, cleaning immediately before treatment, and teat spraying after treatment. Following these guidelines can safeguard both cows and the team for the next season, promoting efficiency and animal well-being.
A well planned dry-off can have a big impact on-farm in the coming season. That includes how and when to start drying off cows.
Following these steps below will help your dry-off run as smoothly as possible, safeguarding the cows and team for next season.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dedicate one person to do this task well. Use freshly made-up teat spray.