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5 Oct 2020

Plan for a dry period of 8 weeks

The dry period should be neither too short nor too long, and data show that 8 weeks is an optimal dry period regardless of breed, production level and lactation number.

Too short or too long dry period?

Cows with a very short dry period of less than 5 weeks will have too low production in the following lactation. Conversely, long dry periods of more than 8 weeks lead to only a slight increase in milk production, which by no means compensates for the loss of milk during a long dry period. At the same time, analysis shows that cows with a very long dry period - apart from mastitis - have a higher prevalence of other diseases.

The length of the dry period has a major impact on both milk production and various health parameters in the following lactation. In optimising these factors, the loss of milk production in the previous lactation due to premature drying off should also be taken into account.

8-week dry period recommended

Studies show that the health status of cows (ketosis, etc.) and herd survivability (both slaughter and mortality) are negatively affected by a prolonged dry period. However, this does not apply to mastitis, where a longer dry period can offer a slight advantage to udders.

It is very difficult to manage the dry period very closely but the recommended dry period is 8 weeks for all cows, regardless of body condition, lactation number and level of production.

Source: SEGES, Denmark