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Dry Cow Nutrition - Winter 2017

Good nutrition, particularly during the dry period, can prevent many metabolic disorders in early lactation, e.g. milk fever, held cleanings, ketosis etc. Adequate BCS over the dry period must be a top priority to ensure cows calve down at a BCS of 3.0-3.25. Group dry cows according to BCS and calving date and feed accordingly.

Adequate mineral nutrition is also essential throughout the dry period. Mineral analysis should be done on silage to identify deficiency or toxicity that may exist. Silage with a high K content can sometimes cause issues on farms as it locks up magnesium and may cause milk fever in fresh calvers.  Ensure to feed a dry cow mineral or a pre-calver ration containing a dry cow mineral for at least 6 weeks prior to calving. Remember: A bolus will only supply trace elements to the cow, magnesium and phosphorus will still need to be supplemented.

Most silage tested so far in the Bandon region is of average to poor quality with low DMD results (64-68%) common. This quality of silage may not be sufficient to meet the dry cow’s energy and protein requirements over the winter if she is to calve down at the recommended BCS of 3.25. Where silage quality is poor, a pre-calver ration should be added to the diet to maintain or build condition on dry cows over the winter.

The table below outlines the feeding requirements of cows at various Body Condition Scores and on different quality silage.