After each lactation, dairy cows require a dry period which is sufficiently long to allow the udder tissue to repair and rejuvenate. Many of the cells that produce milk are removed and replaced again before the next calving. A minimum of six weeks (preferably eight weeks) is recommended between drying-off and calving.
The last month before the end of lactation is key for mastitis control. While there may be a small rise in a cow’s SCC in late lactation, any significant increases that we see at this stage are as a result of udder infection, which is often subclinical and by now, chronic. These cows with persistent infection have the potential to spread infection, as well as influence bulk tank SCC.
Late lactation is a time for decisions such as:
- What cows should be dried off early, and when?
- Which cows need to be culled based on this year’s mastitis records?
- What dry cow treatment (DCT) to use at drying-off?