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Dry and transition cow management

Published on 11 June 2014

BIG Dairy

Rickert Brothers LLC
Eldorado, Wisconsin
900 milking cows; RHA 28,500 pounds
Rick Hartman, herdsman

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Dry-off
For 2-year-old cows, Hartman plans for a 60-day dry period. They are treated with Albadry and Orbeseal at dry-off. Older cows aim to have a 45-day dry period and are treated with Spectramast and Orbeseal. All cows are also vaccinated at this time with Scour Bos and Vision.

Pen moves
Dry cows are housed in a freestall barn with sand bedding. Two to three weeks prior to calving, they are moved into a close-up pen with freestalls lined with mattresses and rice hulls. Post-calving, 2-year-olds are moved into one fresh cow pen and aged cows are moved into a separate fresh cow pen.

Ration
The dry cow ration includes feed from along the bunker walls and longer, grassier hay. The steam-up ration fed in the pre-fresh pen consists of corn silage, chopped straw, a custom pellet and some high-moisture corn to help ramp up energy in the diet. Fresh cows are fed the same ration as the main milking string, along with two to three pounds of baled hay.

Calving
On the day of calving, after the first milking, all cows are given Inforce, QuadriCal calcium bolus and RumenAider nutritional/microbial capsule. Two-year-olds are also given a magnet.

Fresh cow monitoring
Both fresh cow pens are equipped with headlocks, and the cows are locked up daily to monitor for intakes and appearance. Temperatures are taken and the cows are listened to with a stethoscope. After two weeks, the cows are shifted to the back of the pen where they receive the same ration and their milk rates are monitored. At 55 to 65 days after calving, the cows are moved into the regular milking string.

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SMALL Dairy

Vossekuil Mile Dairy LLC
Brandon, Wisconsin
200 milking cows; RHA 25,260 pounds
Marcus Vossekuil, owner

Dry-off
Dry-off occurs 45 days prior to calving. At this time, cows are vaccinated with J-Vac and Guardian and treated with Orbeseal and Orbenin-DC.

Pen moves
Dry cows are housed in an open lot with access to a cornstalk bedded-pack barn. Around three weeks prior to calving, cows are moved to a prefresh pen in the same facility. The fresh cow pen in another barn is set up to hold 16 cows. Cows are rotated out as new ones enter the pen.

Ration
Dry cows receive a ration of corn silage, haylage, straw and a mineral/protein mix. Prefresh cows are given the same diet with some extra protein added.

Calving
After calving, cows are milked during the next scheduled milking and given a QuadriCal calcium bolus.

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Fresh cow monitoring
Fresh cows stay in the treated pen for at least a day until the milk is clear. Then they move to the fresh cow pen. If they come down with milk fever, they are in the treated pen for at least another milking or two. The farm treats ketosis very rarely. “Honestly, fresh cow problems are very minimal,” Vossekuil reports. PD

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