A dry cow refers to one which is not producing milk. Usually, farmers get milk from a cow for about 305 days. This is the average lactation length, after which the cow remains for about 60 days in dry condition, i.e. not secreting milk or being milked. This is called a dry period and is very critical for in it, she is able to regenerate her udder and reserve nutrients for the next lactation, otherwise, the production of milk will not be up to the mark while also the cow may suffer from several metabolic diseases after parturition. A dry cow is just as valuable as a lactating cow, therefore should be not neglected. The dry cow management program includes nutrition, general management, and health control program.
Good management of the dry cow is important, and its aim is to:
- Provide for the involution and regeneration of milk secretory tissue of the udder
- Enhance milk production in the subsequent lactation (milking period)
- Allow for and increase production of colostrum. The transfer of immunoglobulins from cow’s blood to milk starts about one month before calving and reaches its peak just before parturition.
- Develop optimum body reserve to withstand the strain of calving
- Supply sufficient nutrition for the growing fetus, since maximum growth occurs during the last trimester of pregnancy
- Prevent nutritional deficiency diseases like milk fever etc. after calving
- Allow the cow to prepare for the next lactation
It is worth noting that the period around calving represents the time of the greatest risk in the cow’s life. Therefore, adequate preparation and outstanding care are key factors if this transition is to take place without problems. Investing in optimal dry cow management will be repaid with fewer problems in the following lactation, and a higher milk yield.