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.

To prevent problems with the low mass and health of future calves, milk flow should be stopped. The cessation of milking (launch) and changes in the diet should help to accumulate the necessary amount of nutrients for subsequent intensive milking, as well as the production of colostrum for feeding calves in the first days of their life.

Did you know? 50 kg of weight gained between lactation and calving increase further cow's milk production by 300 kg.

Feeding requirements

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.
The basis of the diet should consist of protein, the amount of which per 1 feed unit is 110 g. Calcium and phosphorus are also mandatory elements, since a lack of these minerals can cause malformations of bone tissue or miscarriage. The content of carbohydrates and fats in feed during this period is reduced as much as possible.

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.
The average daily feed rate for a dry animal is at least 2.1–2.4 kg per 100 kg. Dry feeds have a lower content of feed units: 0.8 per 1 kg of feed. For a cow with high dairy characteristics, this indicator increases to 0.95 units.

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.

For 100 kg of animal weight, 2 kg of roughage and 3-4 kg of silage (without butyric acid) are needed. The best concentrate for this period is sunflower and linseed cake, as well as bran. They contain the right amount of phosphorus and protein. To get the necessary sugar rate, 4 kg of sugar beets or 8 kg of fodder will be enough. For optimal mineral nutritional balance, cows should be given special supplements.

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.

2 weeks before calving, the volume of feed is reduced to 500 g, replacing the difference with hay. Then the daily amount of feed is gradually increased to 3-4 kg, which allows you to prepare a scar for lactation. In the last decade, the amount of succulent feed is halved. Proper nutrition during the dry period can increase productivity and reduce the likelihood of diseases such as ketosis, milk fever, metritis, etc.

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.

Proper cows will reduce the risk of secondary ketosis, which is possible immediately after calving. High-quality feeding and compliance with the rules of care in the dry period are important factors in the health of cows and future calves, which lay the foundation for the milk production of the whole herd.

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