Features of keeping and feeding cows in the dry period
Maintaining healthy offspring and further productive lactation are the main tasks of the breeder during the pregnancy of the cow or heifer. Pregnant animals need special attention and care. This article talks about the dry period in cows, when their milking stops and a transfer to a special diet is carried out.
What is the dry period in cows?
The dead period is the days from the last lactation to the next calving. This period is the last phase of pregnancy and lasts about 60 days. The cow during this time should recover and gain strength for childbirth and feeding the calf.
Did you know? The duration of the dry period depends on the condition of the animal and can vary from 45 to 70 days.
A cow will need a special diet for nutrition to avoid a drop in milk production after calving. Compliance with all the features of animal feeding and proper care is the key to the success of a productive dairy industry.
The importance of proper nutrition for pregnant cows
Pregnancy enhances the metabolic processes in the body of a cow. A sharp increase in the fetus occurs in the last 2 months, which leads to a large consumption of nutrients. Therefore, maintaining the mass of the animal becomes at this time one of the main goals of feeding.
Did you know? 50 kg of weight gained between lactation and calving increase further cow's milk production by 300 kg.
The diet of cows and heifers should help:
- increase the fatness of the animal to increase future milk yield;
- increase the tone of the digestive, cardiovascular and endocrine systems;
- minimize the risk of complications during calving, maternity paresis;
- get healthy offspring.
Feed Rate Criteria
To calculate the feed rate, use the tested criteria:
- the total weight of the animal - the feed unit is calculated for every 100 g;
- fatness, which is increased by increasing the basic norm by 1 feed unit;
- annual milk yield, based on 1 feed unit per 1 ton of milk.
Find out what methods to determine a cow’s pregnancy at home.
The right diet for dry cows
Before you learn how to feed cows in the dry period, you need to note one feature of this diet: the diet can be either uniform for the entire period, or divided into 2 parts. Two-phase feeding reduces the load on the internal metabolism of the animal and increases the consumption of dry matter, which will give the cows more energy at the time of calving. Also, with such feeding, there is an increase in fatness and an improvement in the quality of milk in the next lactation. Nutrition of a pregnant animal should be 2-3 times a day.
In the 1st period (60-22 days before calving)
This period starts with stopping milking and is also called starting. Cows with low milk production stop milk production on their own, and for other animals, start-up occurs by reducing milking and changing nutrition. Juicy foods are excluded from the diet, which at normal times contribute to the production of milk (silage and root crops). The basis of nutrition is now made up of feed concentrates and hay. If milk continues to be produced, the cow is fed only hay.
In some cases, after the recommendation of a veterinarian, medicines are used to stop milking. When milk production is stopped, the diet of the animal gradually leads to the recommended rate during this period. Calculation of nutrition is carried out from the estimated milk yield of 2-5 kg. The “menu” should include high-quality bean-cereal hay, which is a supplier of vitamin D and other useful substances (minerals, proteins, sugars). The addition of herbal flour will provide the body with carotene.
Important! Avoid obesity of the animal. This can lead to problems with appetite and with feeding after calving.
In summer, the diet consists mainly of fresh herbs, optionally supplemented with mowed grass in the feeder (40–45 kg per animal). 40 days before calving, increase the daily intake of vitamin E and selenium to avoid the risk of delay in the afterbirth.
In the 2nd period (21 days before calving - calving day)
3 weeks before calving, the animal is gradually transferred to a new diet. The feed used during this period should match the feed for future lactation. The number of concentrates is slowly increased to 3 kg per day. In the daily diet should be present 12-13 kg of dry matter.
What food is forbidden to give
Animals should receive the best quality food without signs of mold or rot. Do not use leftover feed from dairy animals. Frozen foods must be thawed and immediately put on feed. The diet should not include cake and meal made of cotton, potato pulp, bard, beet pulp and beer pellets, as they can provoke abortion or the birth of weak calves.
Important! It is necessary to exclude salt, sodium bicarbonate from the animal’s nutrition, and also reduce the percentage of calcium (red clover, sugar beet tops, alfalfa) to prevent birth paresis and edema.
Dry Cow Care Tips
For optimal passage of the dry period, conditions for keeping the cow are no less important. So that she does not have health problems, it is necessary to adhere to such care rules:
- low stress, for which cows should be in a familiar group and in the same room (if possible);
- lack of leash and enough free space for lying down;
- stay in the fresh air for at least 8 hours and physical activity;
- free access to water and feeding 2-3 times a day;
- animal hygiene with periodic exposure to ultraviolet light;
- cleanliness of the room while maintaining optimal temperature and lighting.