AdminRootController: default_panel: 'CMSPagesController' Dry cow | The Dairy Nutrition Specialists

6 stages overview

Days 301 – -30 (Rest and recovery to maintain body condition)
Dry cow

Pre-Calving 1 Post-Calving 2 Early Lactation 3 Mid Lactation 4 Late Lactation 5 Dry Cow 6

This is the time for rest and recovery for the herd. Ensure the good body condition of your cows is maintained with rations high in fibre to maintain rumen capacity.

During the dry spell ensuring that good body condition score (BCS) is maintained is imperative to the success of the next lactation. It is also important to provide rations that are high in physically effective fibre to ensure rumen capacity is maintained.

In the first week of the dry period a reduced dry matter intake (DMI), along with decreased nutrient density, will help the cow dry off. After that DMI should cover maintenance requirements, keeping in mind that as the foetus develops the maintenance requirements for pregnancy increase. There is also the added stress of the environment that increase nutrient requirements, specifically wind chill.

In the first 10 days of the dry period, a low nutrient density ration that contains a high neutral detergent fibre (NDF) will support dry off. Using lots of hay and silage with a small amount of pasture supports this. However after day 10 increased nutrient demands for pregnancy and cool temperatures require an increase in DMI. An increase of 1 kg dry matter (DM)/cow every 10 days is desirable.


Dairy cows don’t have a massive demand for metabolisable protein (MP) during the dry period. However, it is worth noting that amino acids circulating in her blood do provide for about half of her growing foetus’ energy requirements. A dry cow receiving around 12kg DM daily to maintain BCS, meet foetal and environmental requirements will need to need around 820 grams MP supply daily.

This period really is about focusing on maintenance of the body condition achieved in late lactation. Do not attempt to gain body condition during the dry period unless you are forced into a corner. Feeding hay and keeping the rumen capacity high will set the cow up nicely for the calving period when a rapid increase in DMI is required.

There is a large amount of cell turnover taking place in the mammary gland at this point in time and we need to ensure that immune status is primed and ready for recovery from calving. Continue to provide a trace mineral product containing copper, cobalt, selenium, manganese, iodine and zinc throughout the dry period for this specific purpose.

Delivering the best nutrient mix

Utilise combinations of forages on hand to best meet nutrient requirements.

Usage rates

TopCow® Seasonal usage rates will vary according to forage availability, breed of cow, stage of lactation and milk solids production.

Please contact your Ingham Dairy Nutrition Specialist to discuss your herd’s specific nutrient requirements.