Survey of dry cow management on UK commercial dairy farms

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Abstract

Dry period management of the dairy cow focuses on maximising milk production during the subsequent lactation but may include procedures that negatively affect dry cow health and welfare. A survey of dairy farmers in the UK was conducted to investigate dry cow management procedures. The questionnaire was completed by 148 farmers. Most farms (84 per cent) kept dry cows in dynamic social groups. The median length of the dry period was 56 days, and 83 per cent of farms stopped milking abruptly, regardless of milk production level at dry-off. Twenty-seven per cent of cows from respondent farms produced more than 20 kg of milk per day at dry-off. The majority of farms (78 per cent) used antibiotic dry cow intramammary tubes at dry-off, in combination with internal or external teat sealants. Procedures that were commonly practised and potentially stressful for dry cows included abrupt cessation of milking of high yielding cows and frequent changes in diet and social environment.

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