Dairy dry off - the time to plan - Elders Rural Services
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Dairy dry off – the time to plan

The dry off for spring calving dairy cows is just around the corner.

Many producers are looking forward to a few sleep-ins, holidays with the kids or getting stuck in to some much-needed maintenance on the dairy.

In the lead up to the break, Tasmanian Livestock Production Advisor Nathan Saunders says it’s important to put some thought into this transition period by looking at things like winter feed budgets and animal health programs.

“The key to successful calving, good joining and a peak lactation period is to complete the set up in the autumn prior,” – Nathan Saunders, Elders livestock production advisor.

“The next couple of weeks are the best time to assess body condition score or body weight on all animals, make a plan to get them to a good condition, and figure out how to best feed them through the winter.”

Operational planning is key, and Nathan recommends the following five tips to ensure preparation:

Assess pasture requirements

Taking the time to assess available pasture, create a pasture feed wedge and allocate fodder reserves or winter crops can make all the difference in ensuring that there is sufficient nutrition on-hand for the winter.

Calculate costs

With inputs like urea and grain changing prices regularly, it’s a good idea to calculate the cost benefits of different feed types.

It is important to consider that what was the best value last year may be an expensive option now. Your Elders livestock production advisor can assist you in calculating costs. Contact your local branch.

Plan for drenching and vaccinations

Animal health inputs like drench and vaccines can take some planning.

Lots of the vaccines recommended for pre-calving start with a primer dose up to 12 weeks beforehand. That time is closing in so a calendar of activity can help to keep planning on-track.

Keep an eye out for drench resistance

Drench resistance is becoming more common, especially in dairy heifers. Nathan said that monitoring young stock now with regular weighing, worm testing and identification of issues like drench resistance can help get those heifers to a higher joining weight.

“It’s easier to work on ensuring a good weight gain now than to be chasing your tail in spring.” he said.

Consider supplement feeding

Elders also have an extensive range of feed inputs available, from lead-feed and bulk dairy grain options, to calf milk powders and starter feed.

With increased input costs it’s especially important to ensure quality, solid return on investment and to consult with a trusted team who can advise on what is best. Discover the range of services offered by Elders for Australian dairy farmers.

Elders offer animal health products to help get your girls in top condition during dry off.

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