Dry Cow


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Daily cow requirements Dry matter requirements

Dry matter is a crucial dietary requirement for dry cows. This page outlines the energy a cow needs, considering its weight gain or loss. The feed requirement considers the cow's maintenance, pregnancy, and weight gain. For optimal health, adjust feed based on pasture quality and avoid wastage by monitoring feed rates. The cow's weight, breed, and stage of pregnancy are all significant in determining how much feed is needed. Always remember to adjust your feeding practices to the cow's body condition score (BCS) for maximum benefit. Keeping these requirements in mind ensures a healthy cow and an efficient farm.

Dry matter requirements for dry cows:

Daily cow requirements

Dry cow liveweight MJ ME/kg Lwt change (Diet ME required or saved)

  • Lwt gain 72
  • Lwt loss -30

Example: Daily requirements of a 450 kg JXF cow, 12 weeks before calving and gaining 0.5 kg/day Lwt (1/2 BCS in 30 days) at 11.0 MJ ME/kg DM.

  • Maintenance = 54
  • Pregnancy = 12
  • Lwt gain (0.50 kg Lwt x 72 MJ) = 36
  • Total MJ ME = 102

Total kg DM Eaten (102 divided by 11.0 ME) = 9.3 kg DM

Note: Diet ME required increased by 36 MJ ME from gain of Lwt

The feed requirement figures are 'eaten' feed demand plus 6% to allow for feed wastage observed under good feeding conditions of pasture in farmlet trials. Where feed (pasture or supplement) wastage rates are higher than those stated, requirements for feed offered need to be increased. The requirements are calculated for pasture at 11.0 MJ ME/kg DM. For different pasture quality make the following adjustments to calculate ME or DM requirements.

Dry cow dry matter requirements

Kg liveweight per body condition score (kg Lwt/BCS = 6.58% of cow Lwt)

Cow Lwt 350 400 450 500 550
kg/BCS 23 26 30 33 36

Approximate amounts (kg DM) of 'commonly used feeds' required to be eaten for a 1.0 unit increase in BCS

1. Live weights are for the cow only and exclude the weight of the foetus.

2. Requirements for kale and fodder beet were estimated relative to requirements for grass silage from Keogh et al. (2008).

3. Requirements for swedes were estimated as the average of kale and fodder beet.

Note: Dry matter requirements have been rounded up to the nearest 5. The pasture requirements are based on good feeding conditions. For other feeds there is a small allowance of 6% for wastage. Where wastage rates are higher, the requirements need to be increased accordingly.

The above figures for BCS gain when feeding supplements are under review as of June 2010. For the latest figures refer to DairyNZ Farmfact: Feed requirements of dry cows (3-25)

Maintenance and pregnancy requirements for no body condition score gain (kg/ DM/cow/day) 11.0 MJ ME/kg DM autumn pasture

Breed Kg Lwt 12 wks pre-calving 8 wks pre-calving 4 wks pre-calving 2 wks pre-calving
J 350 5.0 5.7 6.8 7.7
J 400 5.5 6.3 7.6 8.5
J x F 450 6.0 6.8 8.3 9.3
Fr 500 6.5 7.4 9.0 10.1
Fr 550 7.0 8.0 9.6 10.8

Daily DM requirements for gaining 1 body condition score in 60 days (kg DM/cow/ day), including maintenance and pregnancy requirements. 11.0 MJ ME/kg DM autumn pasture

Breed kg Lwt 8-4 weeks pre-calving
Jersey 350 7.5
Jersey 400 8.4
Jersey friesian cross 450 9.2
Friesian 500 10.1
Friesian 550 10.9

No CS gain in last month of pregnancy

Last updated: Sep 2023
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