This summer has been an unusual one in that we have had plenty of rain resulting in growth of lush green pastures. While this environment is great for dry cows, it provides far more energy and protein than needed resulting in the possibility of increased fattening of dry cows, particularly those with dry periods exceeding 60 days. Research and practical experience has shown that overconditioned cows at calving are more prone to milk fever, displaced abomasums and ketosis. Dairy producers may want to consider several options to prevent cows from overfattening.
Research at Illinois has shown that a single dry cow TMR can be successfully implemented. Guidelines for such systems include:
A goal of all dry cow feeding systems is consistency. Make sure that straw is chopped to a length of ~2” and that the TMR is thoroughly mixed. Make sure that bunk space is adequate and that feed is available for 20 h/day. Avoid the use of moldy hay or straw or small grain silages harvested in the “boot” stage. Hay crops heavily contaminated with soil must be avoided as the iron in soil will interfere with absorption of other minerals and predispose cows to metabolic disease.
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, re-print, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Alan L. Grant, Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; Jewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.
October 1, 2009